The Unnamed God of the Sea

Andrey Yurlov/

“My daughter’s dead! Are you happy?”

Stephen stood on the edge of the world and watched the tide roll in. A cold and bitter wind swept through the empty beach, and he steeled himself against it, shirt billowing like a maritime flag. The loud crash of the surf swallowed his words, and after his anger reached an excruciating crescendo, it tapered, leaving him limp, listless, and subdued.

It was almost three in the morning, and the pre-dawn darkness had already worked its way through his skin. It leeched into flesh and bone, fused with every organ in his body until all that remained in his withered heart was the cold void of empty space.

“I gave you everything,” he continued, and the surf swelled in reply.

Not enough, those churning waves seemed to say.

“I spent my whole life contemplating your ancient mysteries, serving you in every way I could, and you rewarded me with death.”

Stephen could still see the body of his four-year-old daughter, spilling over the side of a ship he never should have taken out to sea. The weather had been off the entire morning, but it was nothing Stephen hadn’t encountered before and he never could have imagined those terrifying charcoal clouds, rolling in from the horizon with impossible speed.

He remembered the salty tang of the air soaked with rain, the heaving back-and-forth of the almost capsized boat beneath his feet, the mortal screams of his daughter as she called out one last time to a father who’d reached for her hand too late.

That morning, he’d prayed to the Unnamed God of the Sea for protection, and when that protection failed, his world had capsized like his boat.

“Does my devotion mean nothing to you?”

Nothing, the sea agreed.

And how could he respond? He knew the Unnamed God spoke the truth.

Your years, those lapping waves continued, are but a drop and your accomplishments little more than anthills. Your daughter is mine, and one day, you will be, too.

“I’ll defy you.”

Defy me or don’t. Either way, you’ll return to me. Mortals always do.

The tide lapped at Stephen’s ankles before rolling back into the ocean. Stephen called out again, but this time, there was no reply.

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