The Rust

To Whomever May Find This:

I let my crew down and I let myself down. As captain of our fishing boat, I should have taken more responsibility for my crew. I was panicked though. Scared shitless as they say. I couldn't have more than I did. Or could I have?

I'm currently writing this account in the claustrophobic space of the boat's small office by flashlight. The rust has covered the windows, blocking the light of day. It has taken my boat, my crew, and soon will most likely take my very life from me. And as far as I'm concerned this goddamn rust can take this boat and me down with it. I'm sure I'll meet up with it again in Hell soon anyway.

I should probably explain what happened, otherwise it would render this note useless. I should be somewhat vague as to explain the entire situation before I either die of dehydration or the rust itself gets me. Let me explain.

My name is Oliver Johnson. I'm the captain of the Luckycharm fishing boat. My crew consisted of three people: Bill, Ted, and Dave; all of whom where excellent fishermen if I do say so myself. It was a typically cold day in the fall of 1995 out on the ocean. My crew and I were just getting ready to cast off towards shore after a successful day of fishing. The sky was overcast and the fog had just set in; not unusual for this time of year. The ocean was restless with its high waves and strong winds which almost certainly were blowing in a storm for the night. It was not quite dark yet, but we could tell darkness was not far away. Bill, was the first to spot it. He was bringing in the large fishing net we were using when his eyes fell upon an unusual sight among the other fish in the net.

"Hey guys," Bill yelled over the sound of the ocean. "Come have a look at this!"

"Have a look at what?" Ted replied as he began to walk across the boat to where Bill was squatting, examining his find.

"Better not be anudder one-a those damn eco-wha'd'ya-call-it's," Dave, my first mate shouted, flicking his cigarette butt into the water.

You see, Bill was an ecologist at heart. When it came to keeping the ocean clean, that was one of Bill's top priorities; only being topped by ridding it of as much fish as he could. Ted, Dave, and I all laughed at Dave's comment and headed over to see what Bill was fussing about. I slapped Bill on the back.

"What'cha got there, Bill?"

"This," he said, holding it up for all of us to see. It stained his hand red with residue. When we saw it, all of us stopped laughing. It was a fish alright, but there was definitely something wrong with it. It had a reddish color to it and seemed very...delicate.

"What in God's name is wrong with that fish?" Dave asked, scratching his balding head.

"I don't know, but it looks almost like rust," Bill said with a puzzled look on his face.

"Here, let me have a look at it," Ted demanded, reaching for it. Bill handed it over to Ted whose big hands put a hole in the side of it, leaving red residue on his fingers.

"What the fuck?" Ted said and dropped the fish on the deck.

We watched it shatter into pieces as it made contact with the hard wood of the deck. No one said anything. We just continued to stare at it, then we looked around at each other.

"Well, let's get this mess cleaned up and get out of here," I said. "It looks like a storm's comin'."

Ted went to go get the broom and dustpan and Dave went over to help Bill finish getting the net and fish we had caught ready to go. I went into the small office on the ship and got a beer. My mind kept wandering back to that fish. What had been wrong with it? Why had it rusted, if that was really what had happened to it? I didn't know but would soon find out. I gulped down more beer.

"Jesus Christ!" Dave shouted from outside where he was helping Bill.

I fell over backwards in the chair I was leaning back in, spilling beer all over myself. Quickly scrambling to my feet, I ran outside, almost forgetting to open the office door and stopped. My mouth dropped as i saw what was happening to Bill. Dave was pale and had already backed away from Bill, but continued staring.The red spot left by the fish had grown. It had climbed Bill's arm and was now working its way up his neck.

"Help me!" Bill hollered. "I can't move my left arm!"

No one moved.

"Don't just stand there, you bunch of retards! Help m..." Bill was cut off by the growth of the rust up to his jaw, which was moving even more rapidly now.

Dave ran over to where Bill was and grabbed his arm, which had been entirely rusted like an old car left unattended for many years. It snapped off, covering Dave in red dust.

"Holy fuck!" Dave bellowed, dropping the arm and backing away. An uncontrollable squeak worked its way out of my mouth. Bill's head was now entirely engulfed by the rust, but he had still managed to get onto his feet and was now running around the deck like a chicken with its head cut off. His face was frozen in an expression of fear and agony. His last arm was now nearly entirely consumed by the reddish augmentation, the final uncovered part still flailing upwards in panic. I watched as the rust finished its work on Bill's last arm and realized his movement had slowed at an exponential rate as the rust ate its way down to his legs.

I looked over to where Dave was standing. He was staring down at his hand in horror. The red dust which he had gotten on his hands when he grabbed Bill's arm had taken root in his hands and was now starting to work its way up his own arm like a vine you see working its way gracefully up a tree trunk. Then you realize the vine is actually sucking the very life out of the tree it is climbing as it dries up the inside and turns the tree into a solid dead being; much like the rust seemed to be doing to whatever it touched.

Now in a total state of shock, I peeled my eyes away from Dave and saw that Bill had become entirely inanimate. Despite my best efforts, I could not keep from staring at the tortured look on his face. I watched this terrorized face as the rusty statue that used to be Bill fell onto the deck and shattered. My heart sank. Bill was gone for good.

"Do something, dammit!" Dave screamed from across the deck.

My attention snapped away from the shattered bits and pieces left of Bill to Dave. Both of his arms were entrapped by the rust and it was working its way up his neck and down his legs at an increasingly rapid speed.

"What the hell do you want me to do?" I yelled.

"I don't give a damn!" Dave replied. "Anything! Just make it stop! It hurts like a ..." he was cut off by the rust, which had locked his jaw.

As the rust climbed its way up his face, his eyes were darting back and forth as though he was looking for something. They too then froze as the red agony performed its duty. Dave's expression was not any better than Bill's had been.

"Shit! Ted!" I exclaimed to myself in sudden realization that I had entirely forgotten about him.

I stopped staring at the new, rusted statue of Dave and ran around to the side of this office where the broom was kept. I saw Ted there and my eyes grew large. Not because Ted was entirely rusted, but because he had leaned against the side wall of the office and the rust was now spreading rapidly along it. I also noticed that on the ground on which Ted's rusted body was standing, more rust was on the move. And it was heading directly for me. I turned around and looked at where Bill's remains were and saw to my absolute horror that it was spreading there as well.

I ran back into the office, carefully picking my path along the unrusted parts of the deck. The door slammed shut behind me. Instinctively, I turned around and locked it as soon as it was closed. I leaned against the door, my heart pounding, and slid down it to the floor. I put my head in my cupped hands and began to cry. Bill, Ted, Dave, and I had been partners in the fishing business for thirty-two years. Then for it to all end, not only all at once, but it a seemingly impossible manner like this was unbelievable.

Two hours passed as I sat and bawled as though I was six years old again. The door began to creak. I jumped and scurried on my hands and knees across the room. On the window, I could see the rust growing outside of it. My eyes were glued to it. My heart began to beat faster and harder even though the rust was not coming into the small office. It finally covered the entire window, blocking whatever light that was coming in from the gray sky outside. I was trapped.

When you are imprisoned in a small room such as this one alone, the time never seems to go by. Although I feel this happened years ago, in reality, it was only yesterday. My food supply has run out, not to mention my water supply and I fear that I will not survive much longer.

I'm writing this account to whomever may find it in my empty wine bottle by the last stretch of battery life in my flashlight. Please do not come looking for me as I will most likely be dead. My flashlight has grown quite dim and is beginning to flicker, so I'll finish up what I have to say.

All I ask of whomever may find this is that they tell my wife and daughter how much I love them. And to always remember what happened to the crew of the Luckycharm.

Sincerely,

Oliver Johnson

The Captain of the Luckycharm