It came in the deepest part of the night, when the boat had slowed down to avoid navigational hazards. Its claws scraped and scratched uselessly at the hull, unable to find purchase, trailing deep lines in the wood, as the boat steamed on its way. Finally, it found something it could control: a line attached to the depth buoy. It wrapped its massive, webbed hands around the thick rope, and hoisted itself out of the water. The heavy, muggy air felt alien and dangerous, but the boat—some great beast it didn't understand—was a curiosity too compelling to resist.
With a few pulls of its muscular arms, it mounted the deck, felt the impossibility of dry land beneath its long, webbed feet. What was this place? its prehistoric brain wondered. This dry land that moved as effortlessly through the water as its own body did.
It drew itself up to its full height, and lumbered toward the sound of activity, gasping air into its vestigial lungs. It was vulnerable here, away from the water, clumsy and slow, and the fear that accompanied the vulnerability, heightened its senses and aggression.
There! Movement! Approaching from the light! It backed into the safety of the shadows. A creature was moving toward it. A land-animal of the sort that it was familiar. Fleet and cunning on land, it knew of the dangers they posed. The ones that were not of the river brought fire and death.
The deckhand was weary, even after chewing the coffee beans, but he had hours left on his watch. The captain has asked for a depth reading, and he hurried to check the marker. When the captain asked for something, he did not like to wait, and the depth was important to know. It had to be known quickly. But when he saw the marker's line, he knew something was wrong. Even in the dark, with only the light from the galley porthole to provide illumination, he saw that it was tangled and coiled. The depth marker must have been hoisted out of the water. But who would do such a thing?
Something moved in the corner of his eye. He turned, and the shape was upon him. Impossibly tall—taller than a man—it charged like a beast. He heard only a howl—something bestial, but also full of hate.
He managed to scream before it was on him.