“The sea has never been friendly to man. At most it has been the accomplice of human restlessness.” — Joseph Conrad

Eyes dark as undelved pearls snapped open in a submerged netherworld of pellucid bone-littered coral, remnants of the carnage of a ravenous hunger haunting the depths like the tiger of a petrified jungle…beneath the crimson lava cascade sizzling into the sapphiric sea, like the smoke plumes of a nightmare factory or Atlantean necropolis.

Lava seeped into the cauldrenous waters, nourishing growths and strange sea dwellers. Sentinels of darkened coral formations haunted the depths in dark idolatry like the ruins of an Atlantean throne room. Before the insatiable predacious consumption of the future ravaged the oceans, the waters teemed with life. With the sea mirroring the cerulean sky, the son of a chieftain eased himself into the blood warm waters from a wave-smote outcropping, amid a flurry of jade and turquoise-coloured fish…he poised his spear…a great pale-frilled fish was skewered, writhing at the end of a barbed point…blood particles were carried by the waves beckoningly.

A sinister shape emerged, casting its ominous shadow on the reef, where fish and crabs recoiled into crevices…form perfected for the hunt like a sacrificial blade from a divine forge. It spurned the schooling fish as they dispersed before him, vulnerably exposed from the shelter of coral…they were mere trifles that would not sustain him nor satiate the pangs of voracity that vexed him.

The aroma of a beached and dead whale wafted by the receding tide lured him…and something else…an intruder and rival hunter in his dominion. Senses analysed and catalogued all the sea dwellers in striking distance amid the tides and topography, like an arachnid grid. The youth raised his trophy from the water, yet he instinctively pivoted as a fin cut the surface and the beast struck as his spear fell with grim finality…

As the sanguine red of the sunset yielded to night, torches lit the shore and mourning chants could be heard like disembodied song ventriloquized by the depths as a lone figure staggered ashore bearing a wound of battle…an enigmatic stranger appeared before the people, explaining his presence as being a refugee from the wars afflicting the nearing isles, dark tidings of which cast its ominous shadow on their days…that of a brutal usurper claiming the isles one by one.

The outsider was laconic, yet spoke a courtly archaic variant of their tongue. He was prone, gazing cravingly to the sea in brooding vigil, the way a thirst-tortured nomad would to an elusive long-sought oasis and as if maddened by thirst.

His unnatural longevity allowed him to master the finer arts of craftsmanship…of weapons and shipbuilding, and he was prized for his labours. Humans lives passed before him like sandcastles built and leveled by the inevitable rise of waves…and yet there was a void he felt deeper than the dark fathoms sighing eternally to the shore.

As he turned from the last dwindling fire of the sunset over the sea in solitary vigil like a nomad before a liquid shrine, he beheld beauty as he had not delved from pearls or myriad coral’s riot of colour.

Engarlanded by island flowers like a floral enhaloment, raven cascade of hair casting the sultry dark of night back in disdain in its flourish as her hips undulated in the hula, like the motions of waves beckoning to the mariner in sirenic nocturne matched only by the Shaharazadian spell cast by the voluminous eyes in Endorian maleficence…and celestial light seemed enshrined or tide-pooled in their bright depths, that of the navigator’s stars, beacons of radiance that guided them over the vast distances between the isles and shark-hunted seas…or like the pixilating shimmer of fish schools amid the limerence of moon-shimmering waves…and he felt the void…not as the seafarer yearns to close the distance between islands, but the voids between the stars, as only an immortal can brood under…

The moon-enlustred waves sighed at her feet as only the sway of the tides could lull his restless heart to any measure of repose and solace. Yet the beast within, like the seething magma of a dormant crater, was waiting underneath the surface like a shark stalking a pod of whales…waiting for the right moment for monster to usurp man.

Bitterly envious of his talents, rival tradesmen cornered him at his craft as he fashioned a great canoe for the Chief. Moments later, he stood like a lion over its kill…encrimsoned teeth bared like a lion over its kill…by brandished torchlight, casting the shadow of a shark behind him, betraying his true nature.

Torches of pursuers weaved through the night forest, conch horns braying sonorously as the fugitive sought the sanctuary of the night ocean. He stood at the threshold of the sea that seemed like an ephemeral oasis to a thirst-tortured nomad, like a sentinel shaped by the great island-shaping upheavals.

Like a gladiator snared on sanguined sands, he writhed against the snare cast over him…he was dragged and prodded by spears into a cage vindictively overlooking the sea. The one had so captivated him, brought him food like offerings, chiding others from baiting him like Victorian zoo patrons would bait a lion pacing the confines of its cage.

A tear spilt from her sea green eyes into his skin…the touch of salt water revitalising him. His hands gripped the cage bars…straining. A warrior moved to spear him through the bars, but his hand was staid.

“The enemy is upon us. Can you save our people?” the Kahuna asked.

His eyes shimmered emberously in the circle of torchlight. Confronted by the Iliad-scale armada, he cast aside his dark shroud with a flourish and strode into the sea in sinuous movements so that he seemed to glide rather than stride, enraptured as the waves of blood-warm water caressed his flanks.

Immersed in the dark waves like a welcoming embrace, his duller human senses out of its element exploded with the sensations that the shark hunted by. He could sense the slightest movement and presence of a ray or crab stirring in its shell or under sea and sand, the grating of sea turtle beaks grazing on algae…

No movement or its significance, subtle or furtive eluded him. Like the deciphering of hieroglyphs composed fleetingly on the wave-swept sand, like the flurry of whispers of intriguing courtiers in a court of shadows, the tantalising distressed flutter or falter signifying health or weakness among the myriad denizens of the reef were catalogued and charted.

He felt the intrusive impact of koa paddles smiting the waves as their sleek-hulled warships converged upon the shore and array of beleaguered defenders defying their landing…the passage of great whales, their eerie song haunting the depths. It swept his soul as he sank with eyes closed, ‘til he hovered between surface and unseen depths, amid sunbeams filtering below like apparitional searchlights.

His arms spread like a necromancer in the act of conjuring…he beckoned. Like great hounds summoned by a dark huntsman’s clarion, the sharks materialised from the dark fathoms. Like a mustering of spectral warriors rallying to their lord’s call.

Like a danse macabre of spirits, they circled gracefully, cyclonically around him…akin to excited hounds swarming their master in anticipation of being loosed on their quarry. In the eye of a flesh and soul-consuming maelstrom, he shuddered spasmodically with the first throes of lycanthropic metamorphosis.

His last breath screamed out in red bubbles as gills opened in his throat like reopened wounds venting blood. Flailing limbs elongated contorted torturously and like new wings bursting from a chrysalis…fins flourished now where membrane and taloned hands clawed for the surface.

Cannons shuddered the land and sea as fire arrows blazed in answer, sizzling into the waves…

Above him, thrashing figures were illuminated amid the flash of cannonade and musket.

The first blood was struck…its aroma was drawn by the receding waves into the sea…his nostrils flared…the blood like a matadorian red to an enraged bull.

He sighed like a diner after a sumptuous aroma in the kitchen, inhaling its tantalising scent. Eyes closed, then reopened, gleaming like black pearls. His serrated teeth bared.

Like a revel reaching a terrible crescendo, the sharks swept around him like a vast dark coil. His rage a force of nature like the towering waves that relentlessly smote the Northshore. Like a falconer releasing his raptors, he shrieked and raised his palms. The sharks rose explosively, serrated fangs bared, capsizing the canoes and dragging their warriors under. A torrent of red descended over him, as if hailing him in intoxicating crimson splendour.

He heard the bray of the conch, the defenders rallying on the shore, driving the usurper’s warriors into the sea. The night wind moaned like a disembodied lament over the reddened waves as the enemy reeled back…the eerie sound seemed a heralding of a warrior’s entrance.

The brawny king’s champion shoved aside his retreating comrades and brandished a great club in challenge…He was silhouetted grandly against the pyre of sunset. In feathered, crested helm, adorned by the tusks of great boars brought down by his spear…face ritualistically scarred beneath a riot of exotic plumes of sacred island birds.

He struck a grim and imposing figure…the warriors opposing him recoiled to his gloating smile. Yet it was not for dread of his appearance but for a presence looming behind him that rose like a rearing eel from the dark coral. From the resplendent biolumined waves, the Sharkman rose.

Restored to human form yet bearing the tiger shark’s symmetry like warpaint, his ominous, misshapen shadow cast grimly upon his adversary. The champion pivoted to look aghast into rows of serrated teeth like an array of drawn sacrificial daggers.

The Sharkman effortlessly caught the club as it was swung at his temple and tore it from his hand. He cast it aside and lifted him by his throat, casting him aside as an orca would a seal. He trailed the warrior ashore like an animated gargoyle as rose, swayed, staggered and fell…groping his way to the lava rock formations, outlined against the crimson sky like an Atlantean shrine.

The man drew into fighting stance on a promontory overlooking the crushing shark-infested waves below, his eyes cast beseechingly to the gods. Roaring a battle cry, he brandished an imported steel cutlass. The Sharkman’s attention was drawn to a distant scream in a familiar voice. The lady of his desire was being dragged away in the retreat as a captive.

Distracted, he was impaled by the blade to the hilt. He shuddered convulsively yet steeled himself to endure as he slid himself up the length of the blade and clamped his teeth on his assailant’s bulging throat, before pushing himself and his enemy off the brink.

The water closed, healingly…restoringly over his body…as they sank in a red trail to the unseen coraled depths. A severed arm that he had claimed like a hound retreating with its prize to a castle’s shadowed alcove, sank to the eager claws of pale crabs who scuttled to claim it.

As her captor reached a hand to entwine her hair casts her assailants to the hungry sea below having beckoned its teeth and hunger from the depths like an Atlantean lord calling to his guard with a song at his lips and the sharks answer…he raised her up under the first mariner beacons of stars and bore her back to the fires and drums, beating a victory chant as the enemy fell back to the sea.