by Martin Maenza
It was a fairly calm night off the Pacific coast of California. The moon was full, the last one of the year, and it provided a good amount of illumination as Lisa Morel puttered around the deck of her small houseboat. She hit the light on her watch, even though she had a feeling already of how late it was. “Twenty-two-hundred hours and twenty-five minutes,” she said, noting the time. Her father had served in the Navy for four years and preferred using military time; even after all these years, it was still ingrained in her to set her watches in similar fashion. “You really let your work get away from you this time, Lisa.”
Lisa Morel had been out on the ocean studying the latest in the migratory patterns of certain sea creatures, and as always she got too engrossed in her own research to realize the time had slipped away from her. She finished securing some equipment to the corner of the deck. “It’s just that this equipment I borrowed from STAR yields such wonderful results,” she said aloud to herself. “I almost hate to put it down. I’ll have to thank Karen when I see her.”
She realized what day it was and that the Duncans’ holiday bash was no doubt going on even at this minute. Though she’d probably end up using the excuse of being a workaholic, the truth was Lisa knew exactly what she was doing. She purposely avoided being in town this night so that she wouldn’t have to go to the party. The holidays had been very trying for her since her father’s passing; it was tough enough when her mother was gone, but now that both her parents had passed on, she simply did not feel at all like celebrating much.
Despite her own holiday blues, Lisa knew that it was time to head back ashore. It wasn’t safe to be out on the waters at this late hour, even with the full moon. While her craft was hardly small, it was best not to tempt fate. Lisa crossed the deck toward the engine controls. “Time to head in.”
Suddenly, the entire boat lurched to one side, and Lisa was thrown to the deck. “What on earth?” she asked loudly as she tried to rise to her feet. Again, the boat was hit, this time on the other side. Lisa fell forward once more and barely caught herself on the rail.
The water about the boat was churning, and waves began to splash over on the deck. The boat was hit two more times, and Lisa was tossed over the rail. “Aaah!” she screamed before hitting the dark, choppy water. The water was cold, her sweater and jeans offering little resistance.
Lisa tried to keep her orientation and pushed herself up with her feet and arms. Before she could break the surface, something moving fast through the water hit her from the side and carried her away from the boat. As she finally reached the surface, her lungs were spent. She gasped for air.
Suddenly, she realized that she wasn’t alone in the water. A number of porpoises were circling her as if to hold her at bay. “What is going on here?” Lisa asked as she kept her head above the surface by treading water. She looked over and could see her boat a few hundred yards away.
Suddenly, a large form burst out of the water and crashed into the hull of the boat. “Nooo!” Lisa cried out. Her houseboat, her research equipment, notes, and everything else sank below the surface. Lisa shook her head in disbelief. What was happening?
Then the surface of the water just outside the porpoise ring broke, and a whale rose to the surface. On top of its back sat a man dressed in a costume of green with yellow trim. Over his eyes were goggles, and a small breathing mask covered his mouth. The man removed the breathing mask and looked directly at Lisa.
“Ms. Morel, you are now a prisoner of the Marine Marauder!” And the Marine Marauder let out a sinister laugh.