They Move Below

Karl Drinkwater

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She ignored his swearing as he fixed whatever was wrong with the sails. Instead she looked out at the undulating blue which glowed in the sunlight. A shimmering surface. Unknown what lay below.
“I shoulda knowed he’d stiff me. Typical damn chink furreigner.” He banged a tool against the deck, making her flinch.

You only discover what’s underneath after you’ve dived in. And then it’s too late.
“We Burmese. Not chinks.”

“Chink, gook, burmen, same thing.” Damp patches spread under his arms and down the back of his short-sleeved shirt. He was clumsy, the spanner often slipping from the corroded bolt he was trying to tighten near the mast, something he had called a bird neck … no, gooseneck. “Don’tcha mean ta say Myanma? Ain’t you all proud nowadays?”

“That is literary, not spoken.”
“Just mincing words.” More cursing as he used brute force to adjust the fittings, kneeling and surrounded by tools. “Hey now, you just go on and enjoy yourself there,” he said, with a tone she thought might be sarcasm. “Nothing else ferrit, right?”

The anger steaming from him made it impossible to relax and enjoy it.
“I would help but I do not know much about boats.”
“You’re telling me you grew up by water without learnin’ a damn thing about boats? You gotta be shittin’ me.”
“My ah phay … my father …” But her voice faded out, and she looked up at the sky, shading her eyes with a forearm.

A dot which grew in size; it resolved into a speeding jet, low in the distance, roar of engines reaching them across the water. A machine’s screech breaking the natural peace. He stopped to watch it too. Soon it faded to a dwindling streak on the horizon.

“Military. Jest sabre rattlin’, pay it no mind,” he said. “We all so impressed now, we shakin’ in our boots. Still, ’tis mighty odd fer the M.A.F. ta be this fer away from Pathein. Wonder what’s got them all riled up? Lookin’ fer something?”

They Move Below Description:

Horror lives in the shadows.

It exists under the earth’s surface in ancient caves; below the vast sea’s undulating waves; under dense forest cover; within a storm’s thick, rolling clouds; downstairs in our homes, when we hear the knife drawer rattle in the night. Even our minds and bodies harbour the alien under the skin, the childhood nightmares in our subconscious.

In this collection of sixteen tales Karl Drinkwater sews flesh onto the bones of our worst fears whilst revisiting some of horror’s classic settings, such as the teen party, the boat in trouble, the thing in the cellar, the haunted museum, the ghost in the machine, and the urban legends that come true. No-one is safe. Darkness hides things, no matter how much we strain our eyes. And sometimes those things are looking back at us.

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