Statement of Arnold Ezekiel Warburton, Second Mate,
The Devilfish (lost at sea, June 21, 1921, Cape Hatteras)
I woke as if dropped from the sky, clinging to a piece of wreckage on the flat, still seas. Panic set in immediately and I let go and slipped into the sea. Being a seaman of numerous years I regained my senses and swam for the surface, again gripping the section of hull and pulling myself as far up upon it as I dared with fear of it capsizing under my weight. I choked and sputtered and spat out the seawater that had found its way in and looked about me. Nary a soul to be seen, nary a sign of the Devilfish or its crew, nary a sign of the storm that had rose up or the great beast that had crushed it in its angry grip.
I was hung up a but from below and reaching down to my chest with my left hand to see what was hampering my movement found the amulet suspended around my neck on its leather thongs. It was no longer hot to the touch, but cold, cold as ice. I looked toward the west and could see dim lights of shore and port. I began to kick with my feet and push myself and my bit of ship to shore, hoping the cross currents wouldn’t be too much trouble. I was dead tired, wet, cold but happy to not be deep in the sea.
My movement became slower as I tired. The moon crept higher and higher into the sky and after time I saw in the light what I feared most, fins breaking the surface. I hung still, pulling my legs up under the wood, folding myself against it in hopes of hiding from the sharks now circling my motionless craft. After what seemed like an hour, they ceased their circling, distracted I thought by one of their brethren having found the remaining crew of the Devilfish as that was the direction they seemed to go. Counting to sixty a good ten times, I decided to continue my shoreward motion, steering by the light of the moon toward the glow of safety but all was not as it appeared. One of the foul beasts, a blue by the look of its tail and snout, rose up and struck, worrying my legs and dragging me one way then another as I beat on his face. I was done. I sunk beneath the dark and wet and knew all was over for me, to die beneath the sea like all sailors know may be their fate. I was dragged deep, the pressure on my ears greater and greater, pain in my legs now giving way to a feeling of blessed sleep as blood rushed from my body. I thought of old songs and seaman’s prayers and unconsciously found myself gripping the amulet around my neck and praying to no one in particular for a fast death and a long restful sleep.
With a rush of bubbles and movement and a flash of moonlight I was released. Slung up into the air and smashed down upon yet another piece of wreckage, I gasped for breath and gurgled and again spat water out of my lungs. I drifted into darkness as from afar I could see a searchlight casting back and forth and finally into my eyes. I was found.
When next I woke, I was in a curtained hospital room. Nurses came and went, most with fear in their eyes or disgust or both. A man, another patient came to my side and I grasped at his arm to warn him but he rushed away with a look that mirrored that of the nurses before him.
Over the next day I went in and out of sleep, dark, fitful sleep, unable to explain what I wanted to the nurses and doctors that gave me only a passing glance, and an injection to shut me up. I could hear the man across the room. A vile little reporter we would have dunked overboard had we found him poking around the docks at night. He was dodgy and full of fancy words and slick speech that he used to work the nurses and others that came to see him. I caught him again poking in my drawer but he found nothing apart from some medicines they had stored there out of my reach. Thankfully, he didn’t look under my pillow where a sympathetic young lady had stored my meager belongings, including it.
As night approached, I knew my time on this earth was over. A storm started brewing and winds whipped up and leaves and spray found their way up into the air and onto the nearby windows. I could smell the sea and the death it brought with it. With a crash and splintering sound, I knew it had come. The Great One had found me. I reached and twisted in my befuddled state, under my head, and pulled out Old Tom’s amulet.. draping it around my heathen neck and through the gauze and bandages said my goodbyes to this world and my family far away and never to be seen again…