Five Fingers


This story comes from 4chan's /x/ board, so take it with a grain of salt. It does meet the criterion of weird tales purported to be true, so keep an open mind and enjoy.

Okay I'm not sure if anyone else out there will find this story very creepy, but it's certainly the scariest thing that's ever happened to me, so i might as well share at this point. 

I like to think that I've been around long enough to realize that there's more crazy shit happening in the world than their explanations, and I'd say this falls into that heading.

If anyone out there can actually explain everything away, please do. It would make me feel a whole lot better about the situation.

A few years back I was enlisted in the US Coast Guard, hoping to save lives, stop bad guys, and just be an all-around hero--the kind of mindset that most younger guys have at that time. The reality of what I'd gotten myself into was a lot more frustratingly mundane than what I'd hoped for and consisted of a lot more cleaning/field daying, running basic training drills, and just constantly trying to keep various qualifications up to standard as well as gain new ones.

When this story took place, I was still pretty new to the entire thing. I was in for less than a year, and I'd been stationed at the little small boat station on the coast of Maine. I'd grown up in a small fishing town myself, so i was used to having nothing to do but work, drink, and trying to convince the least unattractive girl at the bar to go home with you.

I was hoping for something a lot more exciting--some hotbed of activity like the coast of Florida. That's pretty much the reason why I always volunteered to get underway whenever the boat was going out for literally anything. It didn't hurt that because I was still new and not actually boat crew qualified that all the extra time helped me with all my required knowledge as well as making me look good in front of command.

So that day we were going to get underway to practice some BECCE drills, some basic boat crew stuff for me, and generally just spend most of the day out on the water making sure we were using some hours.

It was a Saturday, so the command was nowhere in sight, and the OOD was a second-class boatswain's mate named Rivard. He decided it was better to get a few of us out on the 47-foot motor lifeboat than just doing some sleep-inducing classroom training, so the crew consisted of myself, who was a break-in, BM2 Rivard, acting engineer was a third-class MK named Ford, a chick BM3 named Brown, another non-rate break-in named Kovats.

All of them were pretty good guys and dependable sailors, so it was a good crew on a good day with little wind and no predicted bad weather, even if it was unseasonably cold for November.

What a lot of people don't seem to realize is that there is a lot more coastline out there considered haunted than they think. Hell, there's probably just as much of it out there as there are haunted houses or whatever between all the harbors and rocky coastal areas. 

Think about it. If a house gets haunted because something bad happened and people died there, then what about all the countless lives lost in a watery horror over the centuries with downed vessels, battles, mutinies, pirating, storms, and everything else. One stretch of coast could potentially have seen more death and murder than any given area of the land it surrounds.

There's no shortage of tall tales to be told if you can find an old salt talkative or drunk enough to really open up. Not all of them are about the other side, either. There have always been tales of, like, things out in the deeper waters--everything from a kraken to serpents to mermaids and sirens. And the important thing about stories like those is that they were all based on some little bit of truth. A kraken can be replaced with a colossal squid, and the story wouldn't skip a beat.

I'd heard stories about there being a place in our AOR that was supposedly a place where all of the above had happened. It was a small natural cove that couldn't have been more than a mile or two square. Everyone at the station had heard something along those lines, but hardly anyone actually bought into it. Mostly we'd just jokingly bring it up in a mock spooky voice when a crew was about to get underway--just basic fucking around with each other. Nothing ever actually happened in the history of the area, and we didn't expect anything to.

Which is why BM2 Rivard decided we should, "live dangerously," as he put it and head out that way for some of our training.

The cove was a little ways out, about 45 minutes one-way. On the ride out we pretty much just joked around and had fun with going over some basic book knowledge. The BM2 was laid back like that. It was pretty chilly out, about 42 degrees with a water temp about the same or a little lower, so we were in out full dry suits, which made it a little harder to move around, but it did make sure we didn't have to worry much about the chill in the air.

Anyway, when we reached the mouth of the cove, Ford threw the life ring off the side and made a mock scream for help. Looked like we'd started man overboard drills. It was my job to maintain visual of the ring and keep shouting its location in relative degrees until the boat could swing around and come in for a pickup, but it was just a drill, so I was trying to have fun with it. So after about the fifth time, I yelled out a position, I turned back to look at BM2and say, "You get that yet?" in a sarcastic tone. But when I turned back around, the ring was gone. It just wasn't there anymore.

Now, these things are designed to be seen. Not only is the ring bright orange, but it has a floating LED light set to flash so many times per second connected to it with a bit of bright yellow line. If you lose it for a second, it's not hard to find again. Nor was the much wind at all at the time, so it couldn't have really gotten very far from where it was.

The water was pretty calm for the ocean, so after a few seconds of not being able to see the ring and not yelling out any location, Kovats comes over and asked what was up, if I was trying to piss someone off with not taking this seriously at all. So I tell him I lost the ring, and I shout back at BM2 that I lost visual on the ring. Then after a few minutes both Kovats and I still can't find it. The rest of the crew comes up to see if we're blind or just retarded, but they obviously can't find it, either.

I tell them I saw it perfectly one second, then when I turned around I just lost visual completely. But they all thought I was lying and that i must have never had a visual and wanted to make myself look less bad if I said I was paying attention at one point. Even BM2 Rivard didn't seem to believe me, saying that life rings don't just sink; that they're actually made to do the exact opposite, and that I'd probably have to explain to the XPO why our 47 is missing a ring now. 

I called BS on that, but he didn't want to hear it and just wanted to get on with the training. I was pretty pissed at the fact I was basically getting in trouble for lying, so I didn't really notice at first a slight change in the sky.

Kovats asked me if I noticed how the clouds seemed to be getting a bit darker as we went into the cove, but I told him there isn't supposed to be any rain or snow or anything, so it's probably just a little overcast that'll probably let up in a bit.

"I don't know man, isn't overcast normally more just gray?"

He had a point. The clouds did seem darker; more like a thunderhead in color, but like every cloud was a mini thundercloud.

I told him he's just letting the stupid stories about this place get to him. "What are you, some kid afraid of bedtime stories?"

Asking that kind of shut him up about it, but between the clouds and losing a life ring out of nowhere, I had to admit I might have been feeling a little creeped as well.

So anyway, we were in the cove with Ford and Brown having me practice working the tow bit, and Kovats was with BM2 going over the nav equipment and piloting the boat. The sky had stayed that unsettling blackish color, and I could feel a weird feeling in the air--like something wasn't quite right, but there was nothing obviously wrong at the same time. The only thing I could compare it to is if you've ever been standing outside during the eye of a storm.

I saw Brown shiver a little and swore, following it up with the rhetorical question about wasn't it supposed to be good weather today? Being one of the new guys, I didn't want to let that go. I always get ragged on, and I needed to give my share back when I had the chance.

"I didn't take you for the damsel in distress type. You letting some clouds and scary stories get to you now?"

She shot me one of those sarcastic grimaces people give and shoved me in the arm.

Just at that time though, the engines jerked to a complete stop. Just as she shoved me there was a heart-sinking grinding noise, and the sudden jerking of the boat mixed with the shove was almost enough to send me over the rail. The thing is though, that while I was leaning over the rail thinking I was about to go over, I could have sworn that I saw a face just under the water. It was so quick that I almost thought I didn't see anything, but I definitely saw a pale face with eyes as black as the clouds were becoming. 

I was taken aback and still staring into the water when Brown came over and grabbed my arm and asked if I was okay and said we need to go meet up with BM2.

I was a little shaky in my response, but now that my nerves were calming down from almost falling in, I realized that I had just seen my own reflection in the water, and that it wasn't anything more than that.

Mentally scolding myself for being so stupid and quick to assume, I went with Brown to muster up with everyone else. Ford had already gone down into the engine compartment to see what was going on, while the rest of us were in the cabin with BM2. So far no one knew why the boat stalled, but there was some more good news to go with what we already knew. All of the electronics died when the engines went: plotter, radios; everything. 

At first I thought we were screwed and couldn't contact the station. But I remembered that probably all of us had our cell phones on us, even if we weren't supposed to, so I took my phone out. It was dead.

BM2 told me to make ready the anchor. He said that he'd just done an ops and position check less than 10 minutes before, so they won't even try to contact us for another half hour. Which means it'll be up to a few hours before anyone gets out here to pick us up.

I made my way forward to the bow and started rigging the anchor with some line. I toss the anchor over and start paying out line, and I hear what sounds like something swimming along the surface of the water.

I stop with the line and do a quick look around me and only see small wakes around the boat.

I'm starting to feel pretty eerie at this point. I just want to finish anchoring and get back off the bow, when the line I'm holding is tugged from my hands. It's enough to make me wonder what the hell just happened, when the rest of the line starts getting pulled pulled into the water. It's going too fast, and I'm so freaked that most of it's gone before I can even think to move.

I managed to wrap the end of it around the Samson post and throw on a few figure eights, when whatever was pulling us ran out of line. There was a sickening lurching noise as the entire boat got jerked bow-first at a 45 degree angle downward. 

Once again, I almost went over at that point. I was like, Fuck this! but I did notice the Samson post was all bent to hell. 

Now the sky's pretty much black, but there's still daylight somehow--kind of like the opposite of a sun

shower. I go into the survivors' compartment where everyone's gathered, and I'm just in time to hear Ford complaining about us playing music at a time like this. Brown asked him what the hell he was going on about; we didn't even have anything electronic working to play music with. But Ford said, "I know you were playing some kind of music. I could hear it down in the engines." 

Just then, everyone noticed I was there, and BM2 wanted to know exactly what happened while I was up there. I told him exactly what happened, and twice that day I was called a liar.

I said, "Let's go up there, and I'll show you I'm not lying." And lo and behold, there was the post all bent and messed up with barely any line left.

BM2 got a kind of worried look on his face that matched everyone else around me. I heard the sound of swimming again. This time I just waited a second and asked if anyone else heard it, but Ford yelled that he could still hear the music. Like someone singing long notes without a tune.

We all look at each other for a second before Brown says, "MK3, there isn't any music. No one hears


Wham! Something rocks the boat.

We all look at each other, scared shitless. 

Wham! again. 

We booked the hell back indoors to the survivor's compartment. As we were scrambling along the side of the boat, one more wham almost threw Kovats over, but Brown grabbed him and steadied him.

Once we were all indoors, the pounding stopped. After a minute or two of silence, Kovats says, "Okay, everyone realizes that was something hitting us intentionally, right?" 

BM2 tells him to shut up and that we don't need anyone to make things worse right now. He does say that there's clearly something up, and that we need to take the right precautions. He told Ford to go up and check the anchor line and for the rest of us to prep some pyro. He's going to check the radios one more time, and if they still don't work we'll need to send off some flares.

So Brown, Kovats, and I break out the pyro kit and start making sure it's all still good. It obviously was, we just needed something to occupy ourselves.

Brown asks me what I think is going on. I tell her I have no idea, but I've got the worst feeling that things might get a lot worse before they get better.

BM2 comes back and says everything's still shot, just like he thought. He told me to go up and get Ford, because it should not take that long to check on a line.

I called Ford's name as I was coming up to the bow, but when I got there, he wasn't up there. I thought that was weird, but that maybe he just went around the other side as I was coming up, so I circled back around and checked for him on the fan tail. He wasn't there, and I didn't see him get into the survivors' compartment with everyone else, so I asked if he's in the engine room. BM2 asked me what I'm talking about. Didn't I find him on the bow?

At that point I tell everyone to go topside because we must have a man overboard. We all rush up and start yelling his name and looking for any movement in the water. BM2 has the binoculars out and starts doing a search for Ford. After close to 15 minutes, we didn't find anything. 

BM2 is clearly frustrated and pissed. He starts blaming me for wasting everyone's time because Ford's not in the water. I tell him that there's nowhere else he could be, because if Ford went into the engines, he would have seen him himself, and if he were in the cabin bridge I would have seen him BM2 said that Ford was wearing bright orange and an inflatable PFD; he didn't just fucking sink.

At the point I remembered the anchor line, and my stomach turned. I thought to myself, No he didn't just sink; not on his own. 

BM2 just went for the pyro and fired off a parachute flare I was left standing there putting things together in my head. The face I thought I saw, the anchor line being pulled away from me, the whatever it was ramming or hull, and the sound of something swimming. I could still hear the same sound.

Something was going on here, and it was more than just ghost stories and weird feelings. Something was here with us in the water, and it wasn't exactly hiding. 

I snapped up a basic flare--the kind they show in the movies that you just hold and wave around while it burns, I told the BM2 and everyone else to come with me over to the taffrail and just watch. I dropped the flare in the water so the burning end was facing us. Within a minute, we couldn't see the light from it anymore.

Quickly I grabbed another one and did the same thing. Kovats asked what I was doing, but I said to just shut up and watch because the sound of swimming was still there.

Just before the light faded, we saw a big shadow swim over the light. We all backed the fuck up and went down into the compartment. Everyone was scared, But BM2's skin had turned the same shade as a piece of drawing paper. He just kept whispering, "We can't be here. We have to go. We need to leave. We can't be here anymore."

The first thing I thought of to do was to cut the anchor line. I'd rather drift aimlessly than have a physical tie to whatever was down there. BM2 had clearly gone bye-bye, so I told Kovats and Brown what I'd planned to do and for them to sit tight; I'd be right back.

I only had my small boat crew knife with me, so I knew it might take a minute or two to completely cut the anchor loose. I went up to the bow as fast as I could and went to work cutting us loose. I was about halfway through the line when, wham! we were hit again.

It's like whatever's down there knows when we're vulnerable.

Wham again, and I still had a way to go.

Wham! They were getting more frequent now and more forceful. That last one rocked me back on my heels.

Almost done now. Just a few sec-- 

Wham! Wham! Two right in a row.

Almost there! 

Wham! again, but I was done now. We were loose, and I could book it back to the compartment. Just need to make it past the side of the boat, and wham! I was in the water. Third time's the charm.

As soon as I was in I realized I could hear music now, too. It sounded like someone singing long tuneless notes, like if a person were to try to sing a whale song.

When I saw it, I was terrified out of my mind. It was just below the surface, not quite breaking the water. Whatever was coming towards me seemed to be confident. It was taking long serpentine strokes getting to me. A shark or anything I knew wouldn't take its time. It would go right for you. Whatever this was, it was playing.

It was about a meter away from me when I felt something strong pull me. I screamed. And then I was back on the deck of the 47, soaking when but alive. 

Apparently when the pounding started again, Brown and Kovats had come up to make sure I was okay and saw me fall in. They were just quick enough to pull me back up before whatever was in the water got to me.

I asked them if they saw the same thing I did. They both got real quiet but didn't say no.

After that we all hunkered down in the survivors' compartment. BM2 looked a little better, but he was still clearly out of it.

It turned out that last pounding actually did us a favor and ended up inadvertently pushing us toward the mouth of the cove. Not long after that, the rescue crew found us. We were all shaken pretty badly and not really able to tell the rescue crew where MK3 Ford was. All we could do was convince them that he was not in the cove and not to go back in to look for him.

The ride back was quiet, uneventful, and pensive. I did ask BM2 Rivard what it was he saw that made him lose it like he did. He looked me dead in the eye and said that when whatever it was swam over the flare, he saw its fin. Only it wasn't a fin, because fins aren't long and slender. Fins don't end in five fingers.

We never found any trace of Ford.

For another terrifying tale of a doomed voyage, read my breakout space pirate novel Nethereal:

Nethereal - Brian Niemeier


  1. I can’t tell whether all of the specific personally identifiable details lend the story credence or not. Regardless, it is well written and enjoyable and gives an insight into a little known facet of the military, that being all the ghost stories you hear about at any given military base. Even cadets at the academy had our own ghost story about an unused dorm room in one of the squadron halls (Squad 20 I believe) where a cadet had committed suicide (an all too common occurrence, unfortunately)

    1. I think we'd all enjoy it if you'd grace us with one of the military ghost stories you've heard.

    2. Oh I'm glad to. Granted, it's been a few years since I've been a cadet, and there was never *that* much to the story in the first place, but I shall tell it to the best of my recollection.

      As the story goes, a cadet some years ago hung himself in his dorm, if memory recalls he was a cadet from Squadron 20 (Tough Twenty Trolls, as they're called) or perhaps even Squadron 24 (The Phantoms, aptly enough). The reason was never stated, though I can tell you from experience that I can imagine the reasons why. Unfortunately, it is a much more common occurrence than it should be. Whatever the case may be, the next cadets who were subsequently assigned the same dorm room refused to sleep in it at night, opting instead to sleep in the squadron briefing room. The AOC (Air Officer Commanding, a commissioned officer with the rank of major who leads the cadet squadron) and his sergeant attempted to disprove the superstitious frightful cadets by staying in the room themselves overnight. Past midnight (it's not uncommon for cadets to stay up to the wee hours of the morning so it's plausible it was actually witnessed) they were simply observed leaving the room, clearly shaken to their cores, locked the door, and never assigned another cadet to that dorm. Whatever happened, whatever they say, they simply refused to speak of it or acknowledge it.
      Unfortunately, I never had the extra time myself to meander on over to their squadron hall to check it out and verify for myself, but it was a common enough story among my circle of cadet friends. Perhaps not the most exciting of ghost stories, but for such a relatively young place (the Academy was only established in '54) it has seen more than its fair share of misery since then. Make of the story what you will

    3. Thank you for sharing, and well done presenting the mystery without falling for the common mistake of overexplaining the events. Some of the best ghost stories are those that leave questions for the reader to ponder.

  2. Well. True or not, I won't sleep tonight ...