Thursday, September 24, 2009

THE HOUSE IN THE PORT:pt 9

by J.R. Torina




CHAPTER XV


I swam with purpose tonight. The Deep Ones were nowhere to be seen. I was alone in the sea. I saw only the darkly rippling waves in the moonlight. I continued on towards my destination. The island- there, straight ahead, floating above water, just as it should be. I could see the pillars standing up from here. With renewed vigor, I continued on. As I finally reached the shore, I walked up the wet, sandy beach. I walked down that causeway of sand, lined by those pillars and their ancient hieroglyphs. As I looked over them again in marvel, I noticed that someone stood at the other end of the pillars, waiting for me. A Deep One… So, they were here after all. But only the one? And this one appeared somewhat different than the Deep One that had accompanied me on my journey to the island the last time I was here. This one was small, more frail looking, and had a long, white beard. “I been’ waitin’ fer ye,” it said to me. Mustus? I walked closer to the little creature. “Ye be wantin’ to ask me all sorts o’ questions, I’m guessin’,” it said. Mustus. It had large, glassy eyes, those characteristic fleshy, fat lips. Scales covered the thing, and it had withered claws for hands and feet, with webbing in between them all. The giveaway was the beard; that ragged, gray-white beard that I remembered. So it was him, after all. But… here? How? And why? “You’ve got that right,” I said. “What are you doing here?” I asked. “Don’t ye remember?” he said. “Don’t ye remember when I showed ye my scales and my gills? I thought you were all educated an’ such, boy,” he said. “I followed ye out here two nights ago, when ye was with the others; I was off in the distance. I didn’t want em’ to see me. But I was watching ye…” “I am educated, but not, it seems, about Deep Ones,” I retorted. “Mustus, who are the Deep Ones, and what is their purpose? And why am I seeing so much of them lately? I’ve never known them before, never heard of them… Yet now…” “You’ll be hearin’ lots more of ‘em yet, boy,” he said. “You’re one of ‘em.” This caught me off guard. “One of them? No I’m not, I’m a man. I’m human being, you old fool.” “Ye are human, but ye’re a Deep One, too. Ye didn’t come out to this place by boat, didja?” “What do you mean? I don’t have scales. I don’t have gills. I don’t have big fish eyes and lips.” “Ye don’t, but ye’re becoming one of them,” he said. “But ye won’t look like ‘em. That’s why ye’re the Chosen One. Ye’re goin’ to lead ‘em into a new time, a new era. Ye’re they’re protector. You’re Vor’li’ka.” “Their protector? Leading them into a new era? What the hell are you talking about?” “It’s all here. Remember last time? Last time, when ye was readin’ the poles here?” He pointed to the carved hieroglyphs on the columns. “The whole story is here. It tells of how ye were born of the Marsh family, just like all of the “important” people out of the Deep Ones. It tells of how ye are going to take yer place as the rightful leader--and protector--of the Deep Ones. It tells how ye’ll be meetin’ with Cthulhu himself, real soon…” A small chuckle of laughter came from him. “Cthulhu…” I said. “Yep, He’s the real leader of the Deep Ones. People say it’s Dagon, but Dagon’s only a lesser god. Cthulhu is the real deal…”

“What--who is Cthulhu?” “Dead Cthulhu, who lays waitin’, in R’lyeh, dreamin’…” he said. I’d heard that particular saying before. “What did you say?” I asked him. “I said Dead Cthulhu, who lays waitin’ in his sunkin’ home in R’lyeh, dreamin’…” Of course. I had seen this on the wall, painted into that bas-relief in the hall under my house. I suddenly remembered the Deep One, and the place of ritual worship I had discovered. “Mustus… You knew my uncle… Do you know anything about the network of tunnels on an old map, that are beneath his house?” The old man started laughing. He ran off in the opposite direction. “Come see me tomorra’, boy. I gots to git outta here now. They’re coming back. Come see me tomorra’.” They’re coming back? I turned around. There, rising out of the sea, were the Deep Ones. The same Deep Ones I had met the night before, when I swam out here. Looking behind me again, Mustus had disappeared. The Deep Ones, wet and gleaming, slowly shambled up the beach towards me, down the row of pillars. “Vor’li’ka,” the lead one said, as it approached me. I said nothing. It stood, facing me, then pointed to just directly behind me. There, in the distance, on a hill on this small island, was a temple. The creature put it’s huge, webbed talon on my shoulder--gently, I noticed--and pointed to the temple. Obviously, he expected me to go there, for some reason. I proceeded, noticing that the fish men were staying behind me, some of them dispersing to different corners of the tiny island, no doubt to find Mustus, for whatever reason. As I approached the temple, I felt that now somewhat familiar feeling of déjà vu again. I noticed that the temple was made of the same greenish-white stone, quite alien to me, that comprised the pillars just behind me. As I began to walk up the enormous flight of steps, towards the entrance, I noticed that the statues at the stairway entrance flanking each side were of that same squat, loathsome piscine entity with the batwings and tentacles on its face. “Cthulhu?” I wondered to myself. Walking upwards, I heard the remaining Deep Ones behind me, chanting something. What and why, I could not be sure. Finally reaching the top of the stairs, I stood there, at the entrance, staring in awe at the sheer size of the megalithic temple. The entrance itself was at the least twenty feet high, to give it my best estimate. The entrance was carved with those same alien runes and symbols I had noticed earlier, during my trek down that strange tunnel that presumably my uncle had constructed under my house. Inside, I froze upon entering, with a mixture of terror, shock, and… delight? Joy…? I was confused, that much is certain. But that which froze my blood down to the last corpuscle was there, larger than life, right in front of me, on the huge wall--a massive, painted, three-dimensional carving of--Cthulhu! Suddenly, I knew Him… This painted bas relief was so detailed, so huge, so nearly realistic down to the last scale, that I almost thought that He was here, right in front of me. I stood in awe for what seemed like minutes, but were really only seconds, speechless at this leviathan deity that seemed as if it were coming out of the very wall itself. This sculpted monstrosity was obviously the life’s work of some insane artist, for it surely would have taken any man a lifetime to complete such a piece. Man? Perhaps something more than a man. This sculpture depicted Him--Cthulhu--squatting on His massive, thickly muscled hind legs, arms outstretched in a gesture of… greed? Grabbing for something--? The entire body was painted a sickly greenish color. His wings, a pale black color, were spread widely, almost to their full extent. His scales rippled in accordance with His thickly muscled body, highlighted by the moonlight coming down through the opening in the roof. His huge head, impossibly large for His already massive body, sat directly on top of His broad shoulders, showing no sign of a neck. The tentacles that issued from that terrible zone where His “mouth” should have been were carved in a suggestion of them wriggling wildly. They were a paler green than the rest of the body; the undersides of them were a nauseating mauve and pink color. Most terrible of all though, were the eyes. Glowering with eternal hatred and contempt, they stared from under His furrowed brow, in a scornful bloody crimson red gaze that I found impossible to ignore, even from this… statue. The yellowish pupils seemed to burn right through anyone who dared to stand here and look at Him. Noticing that the chanting outside was growing louder, and more rapid, I managed to finally tear my attention away from the hideous carving. I noticed directly in front of that massive, loathsome yet incredible sculpture, was an altar. Suddenly, I felt a hand on my shoulder again. I turned, startled, to see the lead Deep One, standing there next to me. He had a huge grin on his already enormous mouth. I was repulsed, yet I also felt excitement. I knew that he was pleased with me for some reason, as if I had passed some test, or reached some understanding that I myself knew nothing about. I asked him, waving in a sweeping gesture across the temple’s interior, “What is this place?”. He looked at me first, then the walls of the temple, and spoke in a low, throaty voice that was more a croak, like a frog or fish speaking, “This… is… where you… shall… take your place… your rightful place… as leader… protector… of… us…” “Me? Why me? Who am I?” “You… protector… Leading us to Him… To Cthulhu. You… are… Vor’li’ka…” “What is that? What does that name mean?” “Vor'li'ka means… Protector of… people of the seas… lead us from… weapons and rage… of… men…” “But I am a man. I am not a… a Deep One…” “You… are Vor’li’ka… You… are both.” The thing smiled at me again, showing it’s collection of small, sharp teeth. I looked over his shoulder, seeing a smaller mural on the opposing wall on the right, of Dagon, and on the left--Deep Ones. “It is… destiny. We shall awaken… Him.” He pointed to the massive icon of evil sculpted into the wall in front of us. Pointing to the mural of Dagon on our right, he continued, ”You… will lead us all.” I noticed, when he said that last, that in this particular mural, Dagon was wearing a crown. ”You will also kill… the traitor.” That last sentence struck an ominous chord. “Traitor?”, I asked. “Traitor… Mustus… Old man… once a Deep One, but no longer… He keeps one of our kind… prisoner. We cannot… get to him… the star… stones.” Star stones? “I have seen this prisoner! I know the old man…” I suddenly found myself talking to this… this thing, as if it were an old friend. What the hell was going on with me? Was I gone insane? “You kill… old man… or bring him… to us. Help us… free… the other.” At that, the “mer-man” turned, and began shambling down the steps. It seemed as if this creature just assumed--or knew-?-that I was going to help them. I followed, turning one last time to look at the leviathan deity on the wall behind me. Our eyes met again, locked. An infernal gaze met a confused one. As I walked in the moonlight down the rows of columns, I noticed there was no sign of the Deep Ones. I walked straight for the water, without a second thought. Diving in, I headed for home…




CHAPTER XVI



I awoke with a start. Looking out the window, I saw that it was still night. The moon hung ominously over the churning seas, showing off it’s pits and craters, glowing like a phosphorescent sea creature suspended in the sky.

I noticed that my skin felt oddly clammy and somewhat chilled and wet. At once, the smell of the sea began to invade my olfactory senses. This time, I didn’t have to wonder how--or why. I woke up with memories of what I had done, and of the previous time. These were no dreams--they were real events. I wasn’t sure how I came to be doing these things while I was “asleep”, or if I was indeed asleep.

Then again, I thought to myself, maybe I was just sleepwalking. Maybe I went down to the ocean, and that would explain the wet footprints in the house the other night… wouldn’t it?

I suddenly remembered the old man, and how he told me to see him later the next day. That was odd. Perhaps I would go to see him, and perhaps he may actually know of my dream. “Huh… Absurd,” I thought to myself.

However, everything I had experienced had appeared so realistic. I could hardly deny that creature Mustus had chained up in the sump beneath his home. I know for sure that I encountered a Deep One as well, in the secret underground passage downstairs in the cellar.

I also cannot fathom, other than perhaps sleepwalking, how I could reek of the ocean upon waking up. I remembered my clothing, how it was wet with seawater and caked with sand.

So if all of these events in the waking world are true, what of the dream events? Was I really some… benefactor for the “people” beneath the waves? If so, why? When? How and where did I fit in, with… Him? With… Cthulhu?

This other world that I seemed to be a part of, it also seemed unreal, so dreamlike. Perhaps that was it. Perhaps this other world is a dream world, trapped in the world of men. The two existing together should not be, and seems unnatural, yet Deep Ones and the paths of men apparantly crossed infrequently, yet more often than should ever have been allowed.

I felt very hot and clammy in the bedroom. I went downstairs, heading out to the deck at the back of the house. I saw no sign of Max. I felt an ache in my stomach, and realized it had been some time since I had eaten. Opening the refrigerator, I saw the meal of spaghetti I had made from the previous night. Taking out a fork from the drawer, I proceeded to shove a large amount of pasta into my mouth. Almost at once, I recoiled at the taste, which was dry and stale. The more I chewed it up, the more unpalatable it seemed to become. I spit it out into the sink, and tried another bite from the bottom of the bowl, assuming it may be more edible and moist and I had just taken in a dry bit that had been sitting on top.

Again, it seemed tasteless, devoid of any nutritional value for my needs. I spit it out again. I remembered the backpack, which I had left sitting on the kitchen table. Taking out the tin of sardines, I popped one in, and was immediately satisfied. The salt, the oil, the taste of the fish itself.

“For my needs…”? What? I was beginning to notice that I was thinking in an almost dual sort of way; this troubled me, but only remotely, as I had many things on my mind. I went out to sit on the deck, under the moonlit, midnight sky. Stars shone brilliantly over the sea, along with the luminous beacon of the moon.

I saw something splashing in the water a short distance out in the ocean. A fish, jumping around? A shark attacking it’s midnight meal, perhaps? No… This was most definitely a person. I could clearly see arms and a head. It almost seemed as if this person waved at me. A midnight swimmer, who happened to see me, or know who I was? Or was it a Deep One…?

At this last thought, I saw no more splashing. There was no sign of the person in the ocean, just the calm water and gentle waves. Strange…

I decided that I would go to see the old man again tomorrow, and get him to tell me everything he knew about this supposed “destiny” of mine, about the Deep Ones, Dagon and Cthulhu.


Click Here for Part 10 of THE HOUSE IN THE PORT
by J.R. Torina

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