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Friday, September 18, 2009

THE HOUSE IN THE PORT:pt 5

by J.R. Torina



“Wait? Wait for what? And anyhow, what am I going to write? I write the facts about the unexplained--not fiction. If I were to write about seeing a crazy old man that lives on the coast, who has some wretched creature, part man, part fish--I’d be writing fiction, as far as my readers are concerned. The Gazette makes me walk a fine line concerning what I write. If I wrote of this…”

“I’m not talkin’ about ye writin’ anythin’ about this… I’m talking about after.”

“After? After what?”

“I got this one so I could get more information from ‘im. Where their city is out in the Pacific, how to get there… Ya see, they don’t trust me no more.”

“Don’t trust you…”

“When they took my Emma, and she went willin’ with ‘em, I vowed--I vowed to myself then and there, that I’d make ‘em pay. I’d make ‘em all pay. I tried to call the gover’ment, but they just thought I was some crazy ol’ fisherman. So I had to take matters into my own hands.”

“So, they took your wife… they took Emma… and because she went with them--willingly? She went with them willingly--you have vowed vengeance upon them. All of them? And how many of them are there?”

“Out here, on the west coast, they have a village too--I’m not sure where, see, cuz there ain’t no island out in the Pacific--none that I know of, anyhow. Nobody knows fer sure how many Deep Ones there are either, but there ain’t as many as there were off of Innsmouth. But they’s playin’ it smart now, not like they was off of ol’ Innsmouth. Then again, now that I think of it, there could be more of ‘em here than back east.”

“So, is there some port town here, too, that is infected by these creatures?”

“I ain’t seen a one, but there are rumors. Fer the most part, they are only here and there; they mostly stay under the water, from what I seen out here.”

“Anyhow, I come from that Marsh bloodline--so I got the blood of the Deep Ones in me, too; ye seen how I look.”

“Yes, you mentioned that.”

“Well, I caught this one, hoping he’d lead me to the underwater city. So far, nothin’. I figure, if I keep ‘im here long enough, he’ll eventually give in, and take me there. I’m just as much able to breathe underwater as they are.”

“So, you’re a Deep One as well…”

“No! And don’t ye go sayin’ that ever again. Ye hear me? Ever.”

“I’m sorry, but… you have scales… gills…”

“I got the “Innsmouth look”, like folks back east call it. But that’s what’s going to get me in to the city out here. But don’t ye ever refer to me as a Deep One--I ain’t one a them kind. And neither is… my Emma.”

“Mustus, you’re crazy. This one… this one is almost dead. Look at the pitiful thing.” I motioned down to the glistening, slime-coated creature in the pool. “And you think it’s going to thank you, by taking you to it’s domain? After you’ve imprisoned it so? Did you tell this beast of your plans for vengeance upon it’s kind?”

“If it don’t do what I want, I’ll just capture another, or just go lookin’ on my own, if I have to.”

“And do what, exactly? What are you going to do? Bring a gun, and shoot them? And how many are there? Hundreds…? Thousands?”

“If I kin find their leader--or high priest--then that’ll do,” the old man whispered.

That last was rather chilling, in particular, the odd look he gave me when he said it. “I want no part of this. You’re crazy. You want to drown yourself, looking for an underwater city full of mermen, then you go ahead, but I’m having no part of this, and I’m leaving.” I turned to ascend the filth-covered ladder, out of this hellish cavern.

“Ye can’t leave.”

I turned to face him.

“Excuse me?”

“Ye can’t--ye can’t leave.”

“Don’t try and stop me, you crazy old fool. Trust me, I’ll tell no one of this, but I most definitely have no further wish to stay. I’ll just have to change my story to flying saucers or something else; I think there was a sighting of a UFO over McMinnville.”

“No, no--ye have ta stay. Ye’r a part of my plan.”

“I don’t know what you mean by that, and I’m not sure if I want to know, but…”

“I don’t mean ye no harm, I jis’ need yer help.”

“I thought you wanted me to write of this in the paper, expose them? At least to write about it, to generate public interest?”

“No, no, that’s not it.”

“Then what?”

“I need ye to take me there.”

This stopped me short. After all of the old man’s ravings on this day, I was suddenly starting to realize he was less crazy than he was dangerous.

“Me? Take you there?”

“Yes--ye don’t know it yet, but ye’re the Chosen One. Ye’re Vor’li’ka.”

I stepped down off of the ladder.

“Chosen One…? Tell me, Mustus--what is “Vor’li’ka”?”

“Not what--who. Vor’li’ka is the Chosen One. Their leader. The one these Deep Ones off the coast here, in the west, chose to spy out the land and make sure things don’t go wrong, like they did over in Innsmouth. Vor’li’ka will be the one that will bring the Deep Ones to “their rightful place”, so the legend says…”

“So why did this beast look up at us, and say that to me? Is this “Vor’li’ka” coming for us, or me, because of what you’ve done?”

“No, no… he ain’t comin’ here--he’s already here.”

“Is it that beast?”

“No. It is…”

His voice trailed off, and as it did so, he was just standing there, staring at me. He lifted his arm, pointing directly at me. “It is ye.”

It is me. I ran it over in my mind again and again… It is me…

“Me? Chosen by them?” I stammered, uttering some nervous laughter. Nervous, because even though I seemed to be sure of myself when I arrived here at this place, I had to cast out all certainty, and now entertained doubts--about everything.

“That’s what I’m sayin’. They…”

“But I don’t even know of these creatures. I’ve never seen or heard them before today. I’ve heard rumors of mermen off the coast, mostly older stories, and then there’s you--and I’m nothing like you. I don’t have scales. I don’t have gills.”

“Where did ye come here from?”

“Here? To Oregon? I moved here from Salt Lake City. That’s where I’m from, originally.”

“Mountains and a little lake. Desert land. Now, that ye are back here, ye’s ready to become.”

“Become what? A Deep One?” I asked sarcastically.

“Yes.”

The earnestness and sincerity with which he spoke kept me from leaving right then and there, and made me nearly believe him. “Mustus, I have been afraid of the water since being a child. I would never go near it. You’re telling me now that not only am I a merman that lives in the seas, but I am the leader of these creatures. You--you’re crazy, you old lunatic.”

“Maybe I am crazy--a little, anyways. But, I know what I know, an’ I know what ye are. And that’s why ye’re here--I want ye to help me, not them.”

Things suddenly started making a little more sense. I had tried for years while in school to get my work noticed. My work involving the supernatural and the macabre. It seemed that nobody ever took it seriously, or they treated it as a mere curiosity. It made sense now, that I should have suddenly received an offer from an official newspaper, instead of some digest magazine of science fiction or horror/supernatural stories.

“Mustus, who owns the Gazette? The paper that I write for.”

“Ye didn’ know?”

“Deep Ones…?”

“Silas Marsh--owner. Took over--so they say--from his father Jonas.”

“So they say? What do you mean?”

“Same fella. The Deep Ones, they live a long time. Some of ‘em so long, they gots to change their names from time to time, so nobody gets to figgerin’ out who or what they really are.”

I was through doubting the old man; it seemed now that everything he said was not only true, but made absolute, perfect sense. The offer of work and relocation, so far out on the coast…

“But how did they know? And why me? My family is as normal as anyone else’s. I was all the way back in Salt Lake City; a sleepy town if there ever was one.”

“Yer parents, they settled there, but they ain’t from them parts, now are they?”

“Well, no, my father was--” Curse me for a fool, why hadn’t I seen it?

“My father was from Rhode Island. Not too far from…”

“Innsmouth,” the old man finished for me.

“So, my father was… one of them?”

“Had ta be, but you--you’re somethin’ different. That’s why yer the Chosen One. Ye looks normal, ye can move around without anyone ever suspectin’.”

“No gills? No scales?”

“They’ve been getting more success with breedin’, They’re inta science an’ the like now.”

“So, what--they simply willed me to look--“normal”?”

“I can’t explain it myself--I’ll show ye. Come on, back up.” The old man started to ascend back up the stairs. I followed, looking back one more time at the ichthyic thing lying in the pool. The old man hung the lantern up, slammed the trap door in the floor shut, locked it, and hung the keys back up on their rusty hook in the nitre-streaked wall. We went back up the rotting steps and into the nightmarish kitchen and back into the study. The old man started rummaging through a stack of wormy old newspapers.


CHAPTER V


“Ah, here we are!” he exclaimed.

He shoved a yellowed, old newspaper in front of me. It was a copy of The Advertiser, a newspaper from Arkham, Massachusetts.

“TEST TUBE EMBRYO CREATION A SUCCESS”, read the headline.

Upon reading the headline, I scanned the following story. It concerned one Dr. Percival Alexander, making a breakthrough with the creation of a baby without intercourse, but involving the fertilization of female eggs with sperm from a donor.

“Here’s another,” muttered the old man, flopping another dusty old paper down on top of the one I was looking at.

“TEST TUBE EMBRYO AND SCIENTIST DISAPPEAR” read the headline.

Reading on, the story detailed how the eminent scientist Dr. Alexander had just disappeared, and with the embryo he created, as well as all of his research.

“Authorities suspect foul play from the Russians, or possibly even secret agent government involvement”, I read aloud.

“Heh, yeah, if ye believe that,” mumbled the old man.

“So what does this mean? What does this have to do with me? Surely you don’t mean to say that I am this man’s son, born in a laboratory, do you?”

“Ye kin’t deny it.”

“My name isn’t Alexander. My name is Ambrose. Ambrose Smith. If you’ve truly read my columns in The Gazette, you’d have known that.”

“Yer name is really Alexander. Yer first name--Ambrose--ye can look it up fer yerself. Check the meanin’ of yer name, and check yer background. Bet ye won’t like what ye find.”

“And just how do you know all of this?”

“I know the Deep Ones, an’ I knows what they know. And don’t forget,” he pointed down, indicating the piscine charnel house that held that pathetic, moaning creature that spoke (to me…?).

“I might do that, but I wish to borrow these papers, if I may.”

“Sure, sure--but give me yer word that ye’ll come back, and that ye will help me--not them.”

Wishing at this point not only to simply leave the company of the fishy old man and to delve deeper into this new mystery, I promised him.

We parted company then, and I got into my car and left--noticing that he was watching me from a window in the old house.

It was evening now, but something told me I would be up for a great deal longer tonight.



Click Here for Part 6 of THE HOUSE IN THE PORT
©by J.R. Torina

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