This story was the second placing for the 2012 Story Quest Short Story competition, a disaster tale with a science fiction flavor. Two men at sea, working to clean up oil slicks, encounter an unexpected sea creature. Their concern for the animal may be misplaced. Perhaps they should be concerned for themselves… SY
They were five miles from shore on the trawler and it was Hollis who first saw the slick. He signaled from his lookout on the starboard bow.
In the pilothouse Cody throttled down and scanned the horizon. He discerned not one but two pools of oil each about a quarter mile wide, separated by a channel of clear water. The oil didn’t glisten, as you might expect. It was just a shade darker than the ocean surface. Cody could see the entire circumference of each slick. The contours reminded him of the terrain maps he’d used in Iraq.
Hollis stepped back from the foredeck, momentarily lost his footing, then recovered and made a theatrical bow. Cody smiled, though he had been a bit concerned when his former college roommate had arrived at the dock that morning: he’d put on considerable weight. He hadn’t seen him in several years, ever since Hollis had gone down to Galveston to work quality control for a chemical company. It was a desk job, sure enough, so that must have accounted for the added girth.