Dead In The Water

Prompt: ” You are a naval officer closing in on an enemy ship. As you get close, you notice they are not firing back, but signaling you in Morse: “For the love of God, sink us.”


The choppy waves made it hard to see, but there on the horizon was the enemy ship. It bobbed up and down on the water, but it did not look like it was moving. Maybe they got into some kind of trouble.

Lights were off and we were getting no signals from the ship.

Men stood by with weapons at the ready. We were moments from entering range with our artillery.

The enemy ship did not move. It just sat there bobbing up and down.

“Sir, what do we do?” One soldier turned to the captain.

“Get closer to it,” The captain responded. “Do not fire until I give the command.”

On those orders we remained on our course towards the ship. There was a brief moment of tension as we entered their weapon range. We were now in range to shoot at them, but in turn they were also in range to shoot at us.

As we crossed that boarder, we expected some kind of change. Either weapons to be fired or for the boat to try to escape.

But nothing changed.

I mean it didn’t make any sense. There was no point of going silent now. We could see them. They weren’t invisible. Going dark didn’t make any sense.

“Sir, we’re receiving some kind of signal from the ship,” An officer called out.

“Put it on,” The Captain ordered.

At the flip of a switch, we heard a series of beeps.

“Morse Code,” The Captain muttered.

I translated, “Sir, they are saying, ‘Sink Us.’ Over and over again.”

“What?” The Captain asked.

“Sink us, sink us, sink us,” I repeated.

“Open communications with them,” The Captain Ordered. “There must be some kind of mistake.”

The ship kept receiving the message over and over again.

“Sink us. Sink us. Sink us.”

It took but a second before we opened up a line of communication with the enemy ship.

“This is Captain Elliot of the USS Washington, do you read me over?” The Captain said.

There was a brief moment of silence and tensions rose.

“This is Captain Elliot of the USS Washington. Can you hear me?” The Captain repeated.

Another brief moment went by before we got a message back.

At first it was just screaming and yelling. A whole cacophony of voices yelling and screaming with bits of broken Korean thrown in there.

Our translator tried to translate as best he could.

“Sink. Help. Blood. Dead. Help,” He yelled out words.

“This is Captain Elliot. We have heard your distress beacon. What is the status of your vessel?” The Captain asked.

Again we got a whole lot of voices. Some were yelling at us and some were yelling at each other.

The translator rattled off words.

“Blood. Help. Dead. Attack. Beasts. Help. Sink.”

Then we heard one voice yell out in English.

“Please. For the love of god, sink us.”

Communication went silent.

We stood there looking around at one another and then all towards the Captain.

None of us said a word.

The whole cabin was silent other than the series of noises from the machines. I heard the beeps of Morse code continue. The same over and over again.

“Sink us. Sink us. Sink us.”

“Sir?” One of the braver soldiers spoke up.

“What’s the status of the ship?” The Captain asked out loud.

One of the sailors answered. “Sir it looks like it is shut down, but everything looks alright.”

“Is this some kind of trick?”

“I’m…not sure sir. It’s rather unusual.”

The captain held down on the radio.

“We’re coming aboard your ship. Any attempt to stop us will result in an immediate attack upon your vessel. Do not move.”

Another wave of voices answered.

“Stay away. Don’t come near. Dead. Just sink us. Stay away,” The translator said out loud.

“Ready our men. Prepare to breach the ship,” The Captain said.




I looked up from my feet at the Secretary at War sitting behind his desk.

“So, you didn’t know what you were going to find on that ship when you boarded it?” The Secretary asked.

“No, Sir,” I said. “We had no clue that the ship was overrun with the walking corpses.”




Header Photo Credit to National Interest’s List of Battleships

Writing Prompt submitted to r/WritingPrompts by u/Hydrael

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