Author: Guede Mazaka
“So long I endure, no longer; and laugh not again, neither weep.
* * *
She is the ship.
She remembers her first sinking, the way her beams shredded under the pressure and the cold, cold flush of water into her, torrents of icy daggers from all sides. The sudden leadenness as all her buoyancy cracked out of her and her planks grew water-logged, her white sails ripped to sodden rags all twisted up around the spars. The strange, silent glide down to the bottom—she remembers the way she heeled and tumbled in surprise that flight could feel so heavy, so slow and inexorable instead of ineffable.
It happened in deep, cold water. Crystalline black, so every single detail was preserved in the darkness, but they were numbed, chilled till though she remembers perfectly, remembers what it was like, she cannot feel the memory. She’s not built of wood anymore; more than the sea has invaded her and slowly eaten its way into her frame, and these alien things, they don’t respond to light and wind. They barely notice the sea that flows around her, sometimes stormy and sometimes sluggish, and so she’s become a hulk of deadened nerves. She is cold, and crawling even when she leaps, and earth-bound though the sea might part whenever her master beckons. She never has really shaken off the silt of that first sinking, no matter how many times she might crest the waves.
The memories before the sinking are far dimmer, as if they were washed out of her during the blast of her first descent. The ones that do remain are clamped deep in her ribs and masts, trapped bubble-like by the clutching water all around, and so much water is in her that even when she’s surfaced, her planks almost never dry out enough to let the recollections of old wriggle into the free air. She doesn’t see the sun enough, its warm beams never want to caress her anymore and shy away even when she dredges for the dead beneath the deceitfully blue sky. And her crew, strange-bodied as they are, don’t have the sinews to stomp hard enough to shake down into the depths of her.
Sometimes, when a whiff of life is taken aboard her, she might catch a few drops of rum-mixed spit, or the vivid hot salt in a tear, or the burn of blood. She moans then, remembering how her crew had once rousted themselves from among the barrels in her hold, had fought over her planks and fucked each other in the secretive embrace of her corners. But the waves always wash, wash, wash over her and she loses it; the men may stay, but their memories do not and all too soon they numb away to slippery cold ghosts like the rest.
What it takes to rouse the Kraken is what it takes to truly rouse her. The hard shuddering boom travels through every inch of her, rattling loose the parasites that have gnawed their way into her beams so for a moment, she knows what is her and what is them. She feels the fierce shake of fear and of sinking and for a moment, she knows again what it is to scream into the depths, to rail at her fate and to want with every inch of her vengeance that turns the sea steaming with heart’s blood.
“Aye, my lady, we’ll have us another soon,” her master hisses to her.
The boom drops for a last time, and she roars again, making her timbers quake till the things that pass for a crew now cower and clutch at her, though she’ll offer them no protection. Shelter, yes, because she must, but…but the trembling dies away, and the waves smooth up against her, leeching away all the feeling and warmth and she cries, she does—she cries against the loss because she wants, she wants more than to remember--she wants to live.
She wants to fly. She is not the ship at all. She had her name, and her wings, and her captain, and…and…
…and…she does not remember now.
“You’ll be well satisfied with what the Kraken does,” Davy says.
She hears him, but she does not understand. She’s tired, her ribs and spars aching dully, and only the deference of the water to her master keeps her afloat. She mumbles to him and he laughs, thinking whatever he will, for she no longer thinks.