I slowly opened my eyes, immediately blinded by the harsh sunlight reflecting off the water. As my vision adjusted, confusion set in - where was I? There was an endless blue expanse, not a single thing in sight.
Panic rose in my chest as the reality hit me - I was floating alone in the ocean. How did I get here? I had no memory of going on a boat or plane. The last thing I remembered was falling asleep in my own bed at home.
I spun around frantically, searching desperately for any sign of land or a vessel. But there was nothing, just water stretching to the horizon in every direction. A cold sweat broke out on my skin as I realized how utterly alone I was.
Treading water, I called out repeatedly, my cries met only by the crashing waves. My arms and legs ached from keeping my head above the surface.
How long could I stay afloat like this with no supplies?
A dark thought crept into my mind - was this some kind of nightmare, or had I fallen unconscious only to wake up to a watery grave? Was this really how my life would end, abandoned and drowning in this vast, uncaring sea?
As exhaustion set in and my splashing grew weaker, I saw a shadowy shape drift toward me out of the corner of my eye. I turned slowly, too afraid yet curious to look. But whatever it was had vanished as quickly as it appeared.
Was I hallucinating now from dehydration and fear?
Darkness closed in at the edges of my vision.
I knew I didn't have much time left. As I choked on a mouthful of saltwater and began to sink beneath the waves, that was when I saw it - a bizarre, monstrous face gazing up at me from the depths.
As the creature's horrible visage rose up before me, I thrashed in panic. Its skin was pale and glistening, its features distorted. Jagged teeth jutted from its gaping mouth, eyes sunken black pits.
Long, claw-like arms reached for me through the water. I kicked and screamed, desperate to get away. But I was exhausted, my limbs like lead. There was no escaping this terrible thing.
Its claws closed around my legs, gripping like a vice. I was pulled down, down into the murky depths. The light from above faded as I was dragged deeper. Bubbles escaped my lips as I gasped for air that wasn't there.
Darkness swirled at the edges of my vision. My lungs burned, on the verge of exploding. Through the haze, I stared into the monster's face, its rotten smile the last thing I saw.
Then everything went black.
Had I died?
No - I could still feel its grasp on my limp body, pulling me ever further into the inky ocean abyss. What horrific fate awaited me in the depths? Would I wake again or spend eternity trapped below the waves with this creature?
My thoughts grew foggy as oxygen deprivation took hold.
Perhaps this was punishment for straying too far from shore. Or maybe the ocean itself was cursed, haunted by twisted things that lurked in the blackness between worlds. All I knew was an endless descent into a watery hell, dragged down by claws I could not escape.