Following the Book of Leviathans
Augustus staggered to the head and steadied himself against the walls and over the toilet and waited. His breakfast roared down the bowl and his eyes rolled and fluttered as his head swam. He tugged the chain, wiped his face with his sleeve and shakily stepped back out on deck. He took the last of the Mothersill's Sea Sick remedy pills, flicked the box out over the railing and hoped in a half hour or so he might be able to again smoke his pipe and look out over the Atlantic. Would that Hun Count von Zeppelin's airship be an any better a way to travel? It was certainly not as safe in Augustus's mind and would likely pitch, rock and list just as the Eldritch was doing.
He wondered what he'd gotten into befriending this 'Uncle Carleton' chap. A few weeks earlier his dress uniform was ruined with squid ink and he was nearly out of .38 calibre rounds for his Schofield. It was a small miracle Haggis hadn't set them both on an iceberg after all that other "mythological business". The Captain was such a jovial man until that point but had since regarded the two sourly and with his squinted eyes and pursed lips. Carleton surmised it might be more because they drank all his fancy French wine than anything else. It didn't matter, Augustus left the farm to seek adventure and the last month had been more than full of it. Carleton had mentioned publishing his memoirs about it all, but Augustus surmised it might be dismissed as boy's literature despite the fantastic truth of it all and his having the artifacts to prove it. No one would be interested in such seemingly tall tales. Carleton argued there was good money to be made in pulps, but that struck Augustus as unseemly.
Augustus was so looking forward to the fresh fruit and meat he'd finally taste in Havana. We was weary of salted fish and the curiously delicious seal was becoming a bit too rancid even for someone born a Scot. Before long he'd have a shipmate escort him to his trunk to retrieve more Mothersill's and some silver coins to spend on shore. The days were becoming warmer as they sailed south and frequently Augustus would leave even his waistcoat in his cabin. Sweat bled out from under his suspenders and he hoped he'd become as accustomed to the heat as he'd already become to the heavy moisture. The incessant thump of the steamer's engines had become more tolerable as the medicine started working. Perhaps some whiskey would make the morning more tolerable as well. Augustus went below to the cabin to find Carlton yet again examining his uncanny souvenirs.
"Sable! I've been considering these artifacts again.", Carleton said. Augustus' eyes swept his corner looking for his bottle. Completely disinterested, he replied.
"Do tell." He picked up his flask from next to his Bible in the bedside drawer, opened the lid and peered inside with a squint and a sneer. His footing momentary lost as the ship listed, "Have you seen the jigger?", he felt around the back of the drawer, produced the tiny spiggot and replaced the cork in the whiskey with it and started to refill his flask as his shoulders wobbled with the ship's movement.
"These weren't made by men." Slightly chafed his concentration was being disrupted, Augustus cocked an eyebrow. "The metal wasn't worked by fingered hands and it has a smell of sulphur. ...as from a volcano. ...and of fish."
"It was recovered from the deep.", Augustus raised the filled flask to Carleton, "Some?" Carlton opened his pocket watch then gave his bunkmate a disapproving look. "Are you a metallurgist or alchemist too?" He took a deep swig from the flask, topped off what he took and set to fiddling with the lids and corks.
"One can't have too many interests." Carleton again put his jeweler's loupe to his eye and brought the ruby encrusted copper tentacle near his face. His nose wrinkled from the odor.
"If men didn't make those, then who did? Mermaids?", Augustus scoffed.
"Don't be daft." Carleton set the eye glass down in the worn velvet lined wooden tray. "It was made by the squid and octopus." Augustus shot Carleton a stern look, pointed at him with the flask in the same hand.
"That," he said, "...is lunacy."
"After all we've been through that's a notion which strikes you as mad?"
"The world is filled with mysteries you and I cannot begin to comprehend, Mr. Sable."
"Explaining them away with insane fantasies isn't illumination, Carleton. It's delusion."
"You saw that temple! You were there!"
"A sunken building. It wasn't built there."
"It was inside a cave! How could it have sunk and ended up in a cave?"
"I can't pretend to know how the topography of the sea is built! Perhaps it's like a shifting sand bar in a river delta." Augustus made wave gestures with his hands.
"You can't deny what you saw.", Carleton pointed the copper artifact at him.
"But I do and I must." He thought about this a moment. "...and you would do well to consider a more rational explanation." Augustus closed the cabin door behind himself, leaving Carleton gape-mouthed. "Squid and octopus!", he muttered as he walked down the hall to find a crewman to escort him to the hold.
On the deck he'd found Azreal, who up until this voyage was one of the O'Daily triplets. Now he was, presumably, a singlet. He was carving a button for his jacket in the down time and obliged Augustus by taking him to his trunk. Azreal pushed some shifted crates back in line as Augustus doffed the lanyard carrying the key from his neck and opened his trunk. He rummaged about in it a bit, retrieved five boxes of Mothersill's, found a cardboard box of .38 shells he didn't realize he'd packed and filled a pocket with silver before giving a penny to Azreal for taking him down. They climbed the ladder up and Azreal fixed down the hatch and sat upon it as he produced his button and knife from his ditty bag again. Augustus walked sternward, taking shells from the box and filling the loops in his gunbelt as he walked. One dropped and rolled irretrievably between the deckboards and the outer wall of the cabins. "Blast.", he resigned and strolled up to the railing. Augustus struck a match and lit his pipe as he watched the wake behind the ship. A few crewmen polished brass cleats while squinting in the sun. The sea was greener and the sky was bluer and both were calmer than he had ever seen. The oppressive grey of the Canadian Maritimes was just a memory now, and a bad one at that.