First Date Fail, short story.
It was early morning when the couple pulled into the boat ramp. Helen and Ryan were both in their late teens. The girl climbed out of the battered ute and stood at the waters edge taking in the scenery. A thin mist hung in the air, more than a metre or so off the water draping the tops of the mangrove trees in a light blanket. The still waters were broken by the boat plunging in off the trailer. Immediately the girl leapt in after it swearing loudly at the man. Luckily she had just managed to grab hold of the three metre aluminium boat before the current took hold of it and pulled it off the concrete boat ramp into the quick flowing deeper water. The young man quickly rushed to her aid although managing to keep himself dry.
“Jesus you’re keen”, he said hoping to brush off the incident. He’d already made one mistake, he'd assumed he could just pay cash to hire the boat and was put in the rather unpleasant position of asking his date for her credit card and personal details to continue with their plans.
Helen regarded her prospective, partner disdainfully; he was a shade shorter than herself. He had broad shoulders and a muscular build, a square jaw with blonde stubble, dirty blonde hair, sparkling hazel eyes and a permanent cheeky grin.
She had thought the 'Come fishing with me tomorrow' line was original and as she was hoping to find a steady relationship (to counteract the reputation she seemed to be gaining through a string of one night stands), she accepted the unusual offer.
The cold water had penetrated her clothing making it cling to her rising gooseflesh. Seeing a moment for reproval Ryan quickly rummaged around behind the car seat and triumphantly produced a pair of faded Levi’s, stiff and stained.
“They’re clean”, he beamed giving the jeans a shake.
Helen rolled her eyes and snatched the jeans from Ryan’s grasp, then handed them back for a moment as she reluctantly peeled her own wet pants from her body then forced her legs into the stiff jeans.
Ryan delighted in her struggle watching intently as she battled with her clothing, small boobs jiggling about in her singlet, long slender legs and pink undies covering a very firm backside. Her face was pretty too with her brown eyes framed by long dark lashes and full lips, her hair was long and black, and today it was pulled through her cap and swept around her shoulders. He thought of making fun of her jiggling about then thought better of it; he was in enough trouble already.
Helen’s jeans hung loosely about the waist and the legs were to short, so she pulled a piece of baling twine from the back of the ute and threaded it through the belt loops, then tied it in a knot to keep them from falling down.
“Beautiful”, Ryan smiled.
Despite her predicament she smiled back at the grinning idiot. I’m going to kill him she thought to herself.
Finally they were in the boat, speeding through the mangrove lined creeks. Further up the banks tall melaleuca trees scraped the sky. They eventually came to a stop were the creek widened out a little more and threw in the anchor. Ryan was keen to try the new lures he had bought for the fishing trip. Helen took a lure and carefully turned it over in her hand, it was a replica of a small, brightly, coloured, fish that rattled when it was shook, she found it quite pretty and decided she would use it herself. Ryan looked at her aghast.
“That one was a bit expensive”, he said, “Don’t get it snagged or you’ll be in after it”.
“Pffft”, Helen replied. “I’m not going to lose it”.
Soon they had their fishing rods set up and began slowly motoring up the creek. Helen cast off and almost immediately became snagged, hoping not to attract Ryan’s attention she gave an almighty tug, to her dismay the line went limp. ‘Shit!’ she thought to herself. ‘Stuff it I’m not going to give the bastard the satisfaction straight away,’ so for the next 10 minutes she pretended she still had the lure attached. Anyway the scenery was nice and it was peaceful without either of them feeling the need to talk. Eventually she pretended she lost the lure.
“Where abouts?” Ryan asked.
“Oh probably about.... that tree over there”, Helen pointed in a general direction.
Ryan looked around for identifiable land marks and stated, “I can remember that. We’ll walk back here when the tide is low and get it”.
“You can’t be bloody serious!” Helen said in horror.
“Why not? Anyway it’ll give us something to do this arvo", Ryan said pleased with his idea.
“You expect ME to go walking up a muddy creek for miles to look for a lure. There’s supposed to be a dirty great croc living around here,” Helen almost shouted.
“That’s just bullshit. Probably some professional fishermen got together and made up that story to scare the hell out of everyone else, so there’d be more fish for them", Ryan countered.
“Have a look around Ryan this place is perfect for crocs. Even if they were shot out years ago who’s to say there’s not more come back from… some other place,” Helen said regaining some composure.
“If it makes you feel better I’ll bring a rifle", Ryan said.
Helen thought to herself ‘this dickhead with a rifle’. Thinking quickly she decided she couldn’t argue with an idiot so she’d go along with his plan for the moment and work out something later.
Ryan had no intention of going looking for the lost lure he was annoyed because he knew the girl would lose the lure and she only wanted it because it was ‘pretty’. He thought he’d make her sweat a bit as pay back.
The rest of the trip went reasonably well. Helen caught the first fish of the day, a legal size, mangrove jack. Ryan caught a sting-ray and a few undersize bream which he kept, much to Helen’s disgust.
Motoring back to the boat ramp Helen decided it was probably safer to end the relationship before this afternoon’s misadventure. She smiled at the man holding onto the motor handle, he nodded and smiled back thinking this is good I’m bound to get a root this arvo.
Helen had a sneaking suspicion Ryan could make an absolute arsehole of himself and decided that she was best to wait until ‘after’ the hire, boat was returned before she broke off the relationship. She didn’t want to be stuck in the middle of no-where with no car and a tinny, also she really wanted to get her deposit back for the boat hire.
Upon approaching the boat ramp Helen noticed a large partly submerged log up ahead. She shouted above the din of the motor to gain Ryan’s attention but by the time he looked were she was pointing it had disappeared.
He shrugged his shoulders and yelled back “Current took it”.
Helen frowned and rolled her eyes.
Ryan powered down the motor to a steady chug still a short distance away from the boat ramp. Helen moved herself onto the bow of the boat to look out for the stray log; if she saw it she could yell a warning back to Ryan to avoid hitting the log and damaging the props.
Suddenly there was an almighty bang; Helen found herself flung head first over the bow of the boat into the water. Her first instinct was to swim like mad and get out of the water before the boat ran over the top of her. When Helen scrambled to her feet onto the creek bank and turned to where the boat should have been there was no Ryan. She could hear a glug, glug.glug, glugging as the boat engine submerged. At the same moment she noticed Ryan in the water, chest deep, standing stock still. She would have screamed abuse but there was something about his posture that made her swallow her words. She couldn’t see it but she could feel a presence, there, not more than four metres away from herself, a shadow hanging beneath the surface of the water.
Two vertical jets of water shot up into the air and the sea in front of her churned like a whirlpool, the massive crocodile launched itself out of the water at the head of its prey, instantly decapitating the man with one sickening snap of its jaws.
From her vantage point Helen could see the massive creatures body lunging out of the water at the man, the sheer size of the beast, made her feel physically sick. The tinny they were in was three metres long; this croc was easily bigger than that.
The water turned red like some kind of biblical anomaly. Her eyes were glued to the barbaric scene as if she were hypnotized, unable to move or even look away. From the depths of her subconscious mind she somehow managed to regain control of herself turned away from the creek and run like she had never run before. Finding her voice, she screamed from the bottom of her stomach as she ran towards the ute. She struggled frantically with the car door before realising it was locked and Ryan had the keys. She turned and looked down at the creek again in time to see the croc pick up Ryan’s body in its great mouth and roll over and over with it. She released the door handle and caught sight of the main road through the trees, much closer than the dirt track to the boat ramp. Her legs felt like lead as she turned and ran again through the scrub in the direction of the bitumen road. She fell twice as the ground beneath her feet gave way with her weight and sent her tumbling in a heap down an eroded run off drain.
Finally she reached the main road, her heart beat so hard it felt like it would burst through her chest. She saw a car coming towards her and began waving her arms in the air frantically.