Wednesday, September 30, 2009
of the united minds
of a medieval role playing environment
went about plotting the downfall of
blue panda |;p
There was a great man, in the sense of property,
by the seashore pondering times past.
Relaxing in old age, smoking a banana flavored cigar.
Recliner chair, waves tickling his feet, beer spattered
across his naked chest.
There was a great man, in the sense of experience,
pondering the usefulness of barbaric past lives
to the trials of the sweetness of the present.
Middle class, he fed on energy bars
and energy gum.
He was fat and black
and owned seven women
and one manservant.
The crackling Third Eye
of the legion of demons & angels,
ghosts, shape shifters, blood fetishists,
imaginary friends & beings,
an astral virus seeping
into the astral virus.
Gargoyles guarded the doors in the
chat room text-shooting thru:
[GregJeevzs] Was holding a glass of milk to his lips ponderously.
His energy detected the presence of a lycanthrope.
He hated the wolves. He was surrounded.
[Kryslar] Chugged whiskey. Chugged a lot of whiskey.
[AniseSouth] Tapped his foot, anticipating the dragon's entrance...
comic book pages
ninjas and samurai,
into astral paradise and read hindu scripture
arbitrarily pre-recorded hindu scripture
There was no great man, in the sense of spiritual attainment.
Medieval mountains bled into modern day living,
Jebediah had seen the past three seconds sustainably.
Memories of fictional characters meditated
within the folds of the psyche,
conjuring the energy to counter.
Fat Frank shook a flopping wad of soft potato
as his eyes became the plague flies.
His potato fell and he tranced out,
vision divided into three million insect perspectives.
It was his style of conjuring.
Diseases invented by the governments of the world
spread thru the plague flies.
The War to Conquer.
upon the pages of a book
unfolded the language of the desert sage who was
the forest bear dancer.
The man of property was
hit upon the head
The man of experience committed sins too terrible for American consciences.
The unifying third eye of the city dwellers healed
the sickness inflicted by an enemy tribe.
They carried upon their backs,
The joyous tribesmen,
the weight of the whole
of the city.
Machinery calculated to eat holes into the spell
of binding inflicted by the radio,
& hacker kabbalah
and his rapist body double
entered my dreams
and jacked into a
the urinary tract
of ultimate power.
A frequency had been unleashed
to awaken the madness of the frog people.
Anyone with moles on the body,
especially in great number,
was likely descended from
the human-frog people experiments.
It was wondered why the frog people
waged war on the humans,
the humans of little ill will,
who kept to themselves,
ate ice cream,
and drank beer.
There was a great man, in the sense of belly.
brought `round presents from
every corner of the planet,
carried he a sack o' toys,
jiggled his belly did.
A great man in merriment, in kindness, in magic.
The factory produced tulips
in great quantity.
The tulips were watered by piss,
a black heart of a sun nourished the tulips.
The tulip factory spit out baskets full
They crawled upon their stomachs,
haunted by the shadow of the hellcrow
where they spit poison,
lungs withered to pieces
and terrorists pretending to be Christians killed everyone.
--by K.B. Updike, Jr.
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The long tunnel beneath my house glowed again with the flickering torchlight. I didn’t really think that I even needed it anymore. As if reading my thoughts, father took the torch, and snuffed it out in the mud on the ground.
“Trust your eyes,” he told me.
As soon as the burn of the light faded from my eyes, I realized he was right. I could see the tunnel, as if it were lit up on a moonlit night. I wondered how long I had been in possession of this gift.
I thought to myself that only a mere week ago, I would have laughed or been repulsed, at the thought of myself, walking next to this shambling creature from the deep, as if I was taking a walk in the park with my father.
I thought how absurd that such a creature could even exist, let alone give me life. Reaching the end of the tunnel, we entered the ritual chamber. I knew this would be the way… the way home. I took another look around the room. The glorious carvings, telling the story of… my people. Their rise and fall; the story of Cthulhu; and… my story.
Staring down into the pool in the center of the room, I felt no fear or trepidation; instead, I knew this was a ritual pool, a channel to the island. Built by my uncle and by father--for me.
Father stood to the side, waiting for me to enter first. I threw off my pack, and removed my clothing, which now felt restrictive, hot and uncomfortable.
I jumped in, relishing the cool water encompassing my body. I swam instinctively, as if I had done so all my life. Perhaps I had…
I looked up, seeing father gazing down at me from the edge of the pool, a somewhat ghastly smile on his ichthyic face. He entered the water as well, following me down.
I noticed that the entire chasm in which we swam appeared man-made--or rather, mer-man-made; there were more carvings along the walls here, too. Some of them depicted a man who appeared human, standing amongst the Deep Ones. The “human” man wore a crown. Another carving depicted the man again, this time standing in front of the grand Cthulhu. Both faced the same direction, as if aligned together against some antithetical force.
The chasm curved downwards, and we entered a tunnel that ran parallel to the ground, yet still slowly steeped deeper and deeper into the sea as we went. We swam through for a few miles, noticing carvings along the walls the entire way.
We could see the end of the tunnel in the distance; open ocean lay ahead.
Upon exiting the tunnel, I noticed that straight down was dark, even to my eyes. The deep sea realm of my people. Free, open ocean. I looked behind me to see father swimming up from the mouth of the tunnel. He stopped next to me, and emitted a piercing underwater call: “Ia! Ia… Pht'thya-l'yi… Ia… Ia… Pht’thya-l’yi.” It resembled a strange series of chirps and clicks, thinned out by the water pressure. He gestured upwards. Following his lead, we swam a few leagues back up, to the surface of the sea.
I cannot detail enough what an exhilarating experience it was, swimming in the undersea currents, then emerging head first from beneath, but without the slightest gasp for air. I had all but forgotten that boon to mankind; that aspect that I was no longer concerned about. I wondered if I ever had any reason to worry about that; I had not given my underwater breathing a second thought. I realized that the gills I possessed were situated inside my throat and nasal cavity; they were not outside on the neck, visible to others.
I looked up at the dark, foreboding sky, filled with slowly boiling clouds. A few rays of sunlight, diminishing by the minute, poured through the clouds in front of me. I squinted my eyes just a bit, against the blinding light.
Father’s head popped out of the water next to mine. I noticed that the clouds had now enveloped any remaining rays of sun. “Ahead,” he said, pointing to my left.
Looking in that direction, I saw it--the island. That mysterious island that I had seen so many times in dreams past, and even visited, during the last week, in “dreams”…
We swam towards it, seeing the great towering columns looming in the distance as we drew closer.
Emerging from the water onto the shore, I stood again in awe of the place.
I heard a murmuring from behind me. I turned to see father smiling, as Deep Ones started standing in a sort of formation alongside the rows of columns, more emerging from the water in droves. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“Vor’li’ka! Dagon…” some of them cried.
My destiny was becoming clear. The Deep Ones--the Pht'thya-l'yi--lined up on either side of me, all the way from the beachhead to the steps of the temple, and even lining up alongside the steps. Some of them appeared to be human hybrids--the offspring of Deep Ones and men. Regardless of purebloods and hybrids, all stood as one, unified, for a single purpose. I couldn’t believe how many there were.
My father still stood beside me. Turning to face me, he spoke in that guttural, croaking voice, so indicative of the race: “Proceed. Proceed to… destiny.”
I walked slowly at first, not sure what destiny he implied. But then, it seemed as if with each step, things became clearer. I quickened my pace until I reached the steps. I heard them begin to chant; a low, throaty chant, which rose higher and higher as I approached the temple. Reaching the temple entrance, I stood there in awe yet again, as in my “dream” before.
There it was--the massive, painted sculpture of grand Cthulhu--reaching toward me.
I entered the temple itself. As I did so, the chorus rose in pitch again behind me. I saw the altar straight ahead, underneath the sculpture of our dark God.
Walking up to it, I saw a pit just beneath the legs of great Cthulhu; the pit was filled with the skeletal remains of men. It must have been a pit to dispose of those sailors or fisherman unlucky enough to happen across the island and make their way to the temple. This place appeared to be guarded at all times.
I somehow knew what I was to do. I turned from the idol to face the multitude out there. The chanting grew louder. Looking down at the altar, I saw that on top of it was chiseled yet another carving. This one showed the “human” man--myself, I knew--producing the crown I had seen in other carvings from within the altar.
I looked downwards, seeing only stone. Had one of these dead pirates in the bone pit beneath great Cthulhu’s statue pilfered it away? Was it sitting in some house somewhere, revered as a mere trinket by some mortal man? Had that old fool Mustus taken it, and kept it in his filthy house? Somewhat unsure and a bit frustrated, I placed both my hands on the altar, seeing if perhaps there was a way to open it. The stone began glowing a bright, greenish color beneath my hands--and the top layer shattered to shards and fragments. Taken aback, I had no time to marvel at such sorcery, for there it was: the crown of Dagon.
Removing the artifact, I lifted it up from the dust of the disintegrated stone. As I did so, the acolytes’ voices rose higher and higher in their ululations.
Feeling the power I had rightfully gained, I held the crown up above my head, gazing at its silver sheen, its green emeralds. I fitted it to the top of my head. What could only be described as a cacophony of jubilant sound emerged from hundreds of ichthyic throats.
“Ia! Ia… Dagon…” they cried, over and over.
I noticed that as I watched, I felt a slight electrified current cascade through my body. The altar began to slide back. I moved, watching it go. It sunk down, beneath the idol of Cthulhu, and came to rest over the opening of the bone pit. The top of the altar was now flush with the floor. On top, beneath where the crown had rested, was that same strange, black stone, like the one I had found in the attic. It bore the following inscription, in the runes of the Deep Ones--the Pht'thya-l'yi:
“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl phfnah”.
I heard--and felt--a massive… earthquake? But not an earthquake…
The chants grew more fervent, if such were possible, only this time, the chants became:
“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl phfnah”.
A tremor shook the island temple. It felt as if some gigantic, Cyclopean machinery was starting into motion, far beneath us… Somewhere down in the hidden depths of the sea…
“In his home in sunken R’lyeh, great Cthulhu awakens.”
News clipping from The Portland Gazette October 21, 1951
The mystery man and the little green men
How’s this story for strange and macabre? This very paper you hold in your hands had hired on a young man from Salt Lake City to write the “Supernatural Corner” feature usually found in the back of this paper. This young man--Ambrose Smith--had some of his previous works already published here, that had earlier appeared in pulp magazines.
It seems as if Mr. Smith has disappeared. Nobody has seen a trace of him. The last we heard, he had mentioned something about green men--and flying saucers over McMinnville. Could they have taken him away?
News clipping from The Portland Daily Post October 21, 1951
Local fisherman disappears along with reporter; police uncover ritual chamber of horrors
Strange and mysterious events have been reported all over the coast as of late.
It seems as if a missing reporter from another paper, and an old fisherman disappearing from his home, have some connection, according to local authorities.
The police found a day ago the lair of possibly Old Nick himself down in the cellar of Mustus Marsh. There were black magic icons everywhere in this underground cavern, as well as an altar of sorts that Marsh had apparently constructed for his ghastly rituals. Even more disturbing was the series of manacles and chains that emerged from the altar, which also had a large pentagram--a symbol used in Satanic worship--right above it, carved into the very rock itself.
Worse still, a human hand, severed off at the wrist, was found encased in the manacle that bound it. The knife used to perform this grisly act was discovered a few feet away. The hand has been identified as having belonged to Marsh.
Authorities suspect Marsh and the young reporter--Ambrose Smith--had met previously to talk about a story the young man was writing for his paper.
Marsh’s home contained a number of strange books and objects, most of which could be for use in magic rituals and other irreligious practices. Among these articles were various bones, including a human skull.
No connection had been made previously to Marsh--who was mostly a recluse--to anything other than tall tales and bigger fish stories.
Smith’s home was also abandoned. His dog was there with food still in its bowl, tipping authorities off that Smith had only left recently.
While Marsh may or may not be dead, foul play of the worst kind has been suspected, though authorities would not offer any comment on whether they thought Smith was also a victim, or the perpetrator; nor if even Marsh himself was to be implicated, despite his apparent maiming.
No other sign of either man has been discovered. Police are still searching and questioning the surrounding townspeople.
~ the End ~
Monday, September 28, 2009
The old man had insisted that I gather up some supplies from my home, and returned immediately to his house.
Half the day had already passed since I was here previously. As soon as I walked in, the old man sat me down right away and handed me a medium sized burlap bag.
“What’s this?” I said, as I opened the bag.
Looking inside, I thought at first that it was full of sand dollars. The bag was full of round, stone discs, which were flat and smooth. On either side of each and every one of these discs was a five pointed star, much the same as a pentacle, cut into the stone.
“Some kind of sand dollar?” I asked.
“Star stones. Not sand dollars,” he said.
“Ye don’t remember yet about ‘em, but they’re used against Deep Ones, acolytes, Shoggoths…”
“Nevermind,” he said. “Jus’ remember, if you run into a Deep One, ye can use one of these stones to ward it off. Ye can also lay ‘em on the ground, or hang ‘em in the wall or roof, so they can’t pass.”
“How do you mean?”
“They can’t pass the Stars, or touch ‘em. It’s like a cross to a vampire, or silver to a werewolf. How do ye think I’ve kept that one down below a prisoner all this time? The very chunk of rock he’s chained up to has a star on top of it. There’s more down there, too; all over the place. Don’t want no Deep Ones swimmin’ up and gettin’ inside my place, now do I?”
The old man issued more of his crazed laughter, and I wondered after this just what I had got myself into. Star stones?
I found the whole thing ridiculous… Or did I? For some reason, the stones jogged my memory.
“We need to get some rest before we head out,” the old man declared.
“Rest…” I repeated.
“Yes, I’ll be headin’ up to my bed--ye can stay in the guest room, at the end of the hall down there.”
When the old man turned in shortly thereafter, I pulled out the old photo album he had shown me days ago. I perused the black and white gallery of obscenities.
I was staring at photo after photo, amazed at the pictorial history of Mustus Marsh and the Deep Ones. I still couldn’t quite believe what I saw in some of these photos, even though I had seen far worse in recent days past.
I put the book down, and moved to the kitchen, almost as if possessed by the will of another. Hardly noticing the filth and debris this time, I descended into the cellar through the door in the kitchen. It struck me then that I had barely noticed the strange house, or the fishy odor this time. I noticed also that I could see a little better in the dark, though the same single, dim bulb still swayed from its cord down here.
Grasping the old key, I unlocked the ancient padlock on the trap door in the floor, removed the heavy chains, flung it open, and descended. I didn’t need my flashlight, as the old man must've been down here recently, as torches were blazing in the darkness.
I walked over to the area of tumbled stones that the old man had constructed, and saw that pitiful creature, still lying there, in its pool of filthy water.
I felt both revulsion and pity. I didn’t know which was more important, or which of these emotions belonged to which of my now seemingly dual identities.
Dual identity, yes; that of a common man, with a possibly unhealthy interest in the macabre, and that of… what? Deep One? Leader of the Deep Ones? Dagon…?
Looking down at the thing, I noticed that I felt no fear this time. I also noticed that the thing itself, it this were at all possible, seemed… relieved to see me?
I don’t know how I could have detected any hint of emotion in that awful, fish-like face, but… Somehow…
Somehow, I did know. I knew that I--Ambrose… Alexander Smith--Yes, Alexander Smith--Protector of Men… Men of the sea… I knew that I was the link--the missing link, if you like--to men and the Deep Ones.
I looked down at the beast--the man--again, and decided that either way, there was no point in keeping this pitiful thing locked up like this.
As I reached for the manacles that bound it, it spoke.
“Yes… I am…Vor’li’ka.”
I stopped cold.
“What the hell is ye doin’ down here?” came a frenzied shout from behind me. It was the old man.
I turned around, feeling a swirl of contempt and hatred rising in my soul, without even having to think about it.
“You… You old fool… You dare?” I grabbed him by the lapels. “You dare? You DARE!”
The old man had a twisted look of fear and surprise on his face.
“I should kill you right now for this.”
“If I woulda told ye, ye wouldn’a helped me,” he said. “I was gonna tell ye, when the time was right.”
“Oh, and when would that have been? After you had coerced me into killing my… my own father?”
As I spoke these words, it seemed as if they should be absurd, regarding this creature as having anything to do with begetting me or any human of the normal world above. However, I also felt as if things were falling into place, or like mental blocks were being lifted. I knew that the mer-man chained before me was my own father, Percival Alexander, and that I was his son, Ambrose Alexander.
I turned to the old man again, not sure if I should strangle him, or press him for more information.
“It was you… It was you that I sensed, watching me… in my… my “dream”… Only it wasn’t a dream after all, was it? It was real--I was actually out there, swimming in the sea… by that island…”
“Yes, yes… Ye was really there. I was watchin’ ye from far out in the deeps, but I had to stay unseen from the others; they want to git me for what I done here.” He pointed to my father, chained below. “Ye is a Deep One. Ye is the Leader. That’s why…” The old man stopped short, as if he had caught himself.
“That’s why what?” I hissed. Then a rush of awareness came in like a tidal sea bursting a dam. “That’s why you told me this feeble story of vengeance… You held my father… You held my father captive. You did it all… to get me…”
“I still want to have my revenge, for my wife… but, ye may be right.”
At that, the old man produced a knife from inside his boot. Holding it towards me, he continued.
“I tricked this one--I told him years ago, back east, I’d have my revenge. I got this one here to swim up under the house… Told ‘im you were down here.”
“You dirty old bastard.”
“Only I didn’t tell ‘im about the star stones I got everywhere.” More crazed laughter.
“How is it that you--and myself, for that matter--are resistant to these star stones?”
“I turned a long time ago from the ways o’ the Deep Ones… I can only guess that when I did that, I somehow got up a resistance to ‘em. But not much. I had to hire someone to hang ‘em up down here all over; they thought I was crazy. But I still avoid ‘em like the plague. I had to do what I had to do, so I endured a little pain. But it’s not a pain like it used ta’ be. Maybe it’s God hisself helping me along…”
“Ye don’t know much, do ye,” he chortled.
“Tell me,” I snapped.
“Ye is a Deep One, but created by Deep Ones in science… They musta found a way to make ye immune. But the rest of ‘em, they ain’t never gonna have that immunity. Only ye have it. That’s why ye’re goin’ to lead the way for ‘em. Ye are Dagon.”
I stared off into the depths of the cave, pondering that last statement. As I did, I noticed that there were indeed stars almost everywhere; some carved into the walls, some scattered on the ground, some carved into the rock on the ground, some smaller stones hung from stalactites…
“Ye’re father named ye what he did, hopin’ ye’d find out fer yerself who ye are,” he said. “He left clues everywhere, hopin’ ye’d find it all out fer yerself.”
“Names…?” It was all making sense. That tidal rush of information coming in again…
“Ambrose”… Greek for “belonging to the immortals”… “Alexander”… Greek for “Protector of Men”… Of course.
I was standing on the threshold of a great change in my life--and in the lives of many others. The old man must have noticed me pondering my destiny, for he lunged at me with the knife. In a broad, sweeping motion, I grabbed his wrist, twisting so hard and that he dropped the knife.
With his wrist caught in my grip, he hunched over, trying desperately to swat me with his other hand. “I was only gonna hold ye, I wasn’t gonna kill ye,” he said.
“I’m sure I can believe you,” I replied. I punched him squarely in the side of the temple with my free fist. He dropped face down in the muck next to my father.
Finding the key to the shackles that held my father in bondage, I unlocked the cuffs. When I did, the… man… slowly stood, with not a small amount of effort. I looked at him, still somewhat bewildered that this thing--this man--was in any way related to a human.
Was I human? I was no longer sure.
He pointed down at the unconscious form of Mustus. I chained the old man the same way he had chained up my father. He hadn’t come to yet.
Realizing that the old man had mined the river entrance with star stones, I knew father could not pass, but that I could. I wasn’t sure how we would get him back.
Back to… where? Inside, I knew.
Friday, September 25, 2009
It was Thursday, about three in the afternoon. I was driving over to see Mustus. It was fairly overcast out, almost as if it were going to storm. There was some weak sunlight shining in through the clouds here and there. The singular rays reached down into the ocean, almost as if the light wanted to purify whatever ancient evil lay beneath the waves, but the ominous clouds swallowed most of them up…
I put on my sunglasses, as the light was hurting my eyes. I couldn’t figure out why this should be the case, but I likened it to staying up so many late nights and sleeping most of the days as of late.
As I drove on the isolated country road to see the old man, I lost myself in thought.
I kept thinking of that creature from my dreams…
“Vor’li’ka. You are protector. You are both.”
So, apparently I was destined to lead the people of the oceans--the mer-men or “Deep Ones”, as they are known--to Cthulhu.
How I came to be of this destiny still eluded me, but I was beginning to have the unnerving suspicion that perhaps I was beginning to come to, so to speak, from the real dream--my past life as a typical, ordinary man.
If that were the case, then according to the creature in the “dream”, I was to lead them to Cthulhu, as well as protect them before and during this event, from the harms of man. How was I to do that? And, did I really want to do that?
But one question kept nagging at me--why? Why me? I know nothing of Deep Ones or Cthulhu, save what I’ve discovered for myself these past few dark days.
How could a man, a mere mortal human, with no apparent affinity with water, be a leader, let alone savior, to creatures that spawn, and indeed live in the sea all of their lives?
As I mulled this over, I arrived on the gravel driveway of Mustus’ home.
Exiting the car, I decided to leave the glasses on; some of the rays of light shone directly upon his house. I found that rather coincidental.
As I stepped onto the rotting old porch, the door swung open so quickly that I was a bit startled.
“Come in, come in. I knew ye’d come,” chuckled the old man.
“Here we go again” I thought to myself.
“Alright, Mustus, no games. No riddles. This time, I want some answers. I want you to kindly tell me exactly what the hell is going on.”
“Hell is jis' what’s goin’ on, my friend,” he said.
I was feeling rather irritated. I was suffering a bit of a headache, possibly from the light in my eyes earlier. I opened my mouth to make a sharp comment, but the old man cut me off before I could.
“Now lissen’ to me,” he said.
I took off my sunglasses and clipped them onto my shirt collar.
“Yer father was a doctor, right?”
“Well, he did all he could to get by and make hisself and his family a comfortable livin’. But, he also was a doctor of other things, too.”
“Fer example, I showed ye the paper last time ye were here, remember? The paper about the test tube baby?”
“That was you. You were created in a lab.”
“You showed me the paper, I remember. That doesn’t really prove anything though--but go on.”
“Well, it be true. I used to be a member of the Order, at the lodge back east. When the government came out an’ blew ‘em all up, well… they disappeared, the Deep Ones, for a real long time.” He went on. “They moved out, most of ‘em, ‘cept my kin--‘cept fer the Marshes.”
“The Marsh family--I read that they were the largest family in Innsmouth, but as of late they had been, well, petering out? Due to inbreeding, as well as breeding with… those things?”
“Yes, yes. Ye got it straight.”
“And, most of them people out there, they left and came… here.”
“Here, to Portland…”
“But, I haven’t seen any conglomeration of townsfolk around here--indeed, there are no real fishing villages around here…”
“They’re here, believe ye me, lad.”
“Everywhere. They done learned their lesson, they did. Back then, back east--they was all in the town of Innsmouth, and they got caught. The government blew most of ‘em to kingdom come. The rest of ‘em, they just holed up in their houses and carried on in secret, or they came… here.”
“So, they’re just spread out, all over Portland?”
“Fer the most part. But a great deal of ‘em, they’re…” He trailed off, and pointed down with one finger.
“In the sea, some of ‘em in the caves.”
“Caves? What caves?”
“You seen ‘em. There’s a whole network of caves, tunnels--even an underwater city somewhere out there, but I dunno where it’s at. Maybe ye can remember, or find out… Anyhow, ye seen some of the caverns, under my house. Down there, where I got one of ‘em chained up… ‘member?”
“Well, some of ‘em went off under the sea, cuz they was ready, ye see… And the others, them regular people--they’re either around the surrounding towns on the coast, or… in the caves underneath.”
“So, some of them… turned? Into these… Deep Ones?”
“Yep, sure did. It was only a matter of time.”
Vor’li’ka… Protector of men… Men? I wanted to ask him about the dream, but he continued on.
“So, the government, they got wind of what yer father was doin’. They tracked him down, but when they did, yer father done disappeared too. With the baby--with ye.”
“My father died in the war--remember?”
“That’s the official explanation. That’s what he spread ‘round, so’s they’d quit lookin’ fer him.”
“Come on, Mustus. You really expect me to believe…”
“Believe it, cuz it be the truth. I ain’t given over to tellin’ lies. I may be old and a bit daft to some, but when it comes to Deep Ones, I know what I know, and I’m tellin’ ye the truth, I swear it.”
“So according to you, my father supposedly didn’t die in the war; how did he die, then?
“He didn’t die.”
“Alive? Where? Where is he?”
Again, he pointed downwards.
“The sea? My father is a Deep One, is that what you’re saying?”
“That be the truth.”
I wasn’t sure how to take this news. If the old man was telling the truth, it would explain a great deal of the strange events that have been happening to me during the past few days. It would also explain why he and my uncle spent so much time together, as well as the house and it’s dark passages, the strange statues and items in the attic. If not, well--he had a hell of a sense of humor, and I might just have to have him committed.
There was so much evidence to support his story, though… and I needed more information. “Tell me, Mustus--who, what--is Cthulhu?”
The old man froze, his eyes widening somewhat, as if I had blasphemed so terribly that a bolt of lightning may at any moment strike us down.
“If ye don’t know, then… ye don’t need ta know,” he said.
“Come on, old man. I’ve been in the middle of the strangest events for the past few days, and you’re involved in it. All of this somehow seems to lead up to him--It--whatever. This “Cthulhu”… Come on now, tell me.”
“He… He is the most evil of all the Ancient Ones. He is the Lord of the Abyss. He rules over the oceans, over the Deep Ones.”
“What’s the connection with the Deep Ones?”
“They serve him. Only, the ones out here, out west, they don’t know where He is. All the old records were destroyed, when the government agents blasted up Innsmouth and Devil’s Reef. They are searching for R’lyeh, where…”
“Where Dead Cthulhu lies dreaming,” I finished for him.
“Yes… Yes, exactly.”
“What does that mean? What or where is “R’lyeh””?
“R’Lyeh is His place; His city. He an’ all of His brethren, they took on the Elder Gods, and they lost. They got sent to prisons all over the place. Hastur, He got sent off to someplace out in the heavens; Ithaqua, to the snowy wastes of the north…”
“…and Cthulhu, to the sunken building or city, of R’lyeh, under the seas.”
Things were starting to fall into place--somewhat.
“So, what does Cthulhu need from me?”
Here, the old man seemed to hesitate.
“He… He… I don’t know…”
I sent him a sharp look.
“Accordin’ to legend… and to yer father… ye are the redeemer. The savior, I guess.”
“Yes, ye got it. That’s yer official name--yer official title.”
I wasn’t sure, but it seemed that the old man seemed somewhat… fearful of me? It was as if a switch turned on in his brain--as if he suddenly thought I was going to lash out at him? I wasn’t sure what it meant.
“So, “Vor’li’ka” means “Protector”?”
“No, no. It… It implies that… It’s more what ye are, what ye do. The name, well- it’s more of a title, than a name. Sort of.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Vor’li’ka--the word, it’s a name for ye, and ye only. That’s a Deep One name, it is.”
“So, I have a given name, in the language of the Deep Ones.”
“Yes, and it has an English translation.”
I stopped short. The blood chilled in my veins, and my scalp and palms broke out in a cold, oily sweat.
Somehow, I wanted, hoped that this was all an elaborate story by a lunatic old man, but I knew… I knew that is was the truth. It was as if someone had turned on a switch in my brain. It seemed as if this whole time, I had been living a sort of a lie--or rather, performing a façade of a life, when in fact…
“I didn’t want to tell ye that, but know ye knows,” the old man said in a hushed voice.
“How was I born?”
“Yer father, he made ye, as ye know… But with the donated cells and sperm of… Him…”
The old man just looked at me, not daring to speak His name aloud.
The old man hesitated, unsure of what to do.
“SAY IT,” I screamed.
“C-C-Cthulhu…” he moaned, almost as if in agony to merely say the name.
“Dagon… Dagon was a mythical fish creature. Ponape, Philistines… Every culture has a legend of some sort of a fish god. Neptune, for god’s sake. Are you saying…”
“Some myths have a basis in fact, lad,” he said.
“But Mustis, I’m not thousands of years old, and I’ve never been much for the water.”
“What do you mean? What do you mean by that?”
“I mean… There is a legend among the Deep Ones, that in order to free… Him… to free Cthulhu--they need a leader, and protector. They learned what they done wrong at Innsmouth. And yer father, he somehow got the… material… to make you, while back there. Somehow… Somehow, boy--ye’re the key to it all. Those other Deep Ones back there, they got to bein’ so degenerate, those ones that survived the government raid, that they’s pretty much killed themselves off. Only yer father knew the secret of Cthulhu.”
I listened intently as he went on.
“They always used the name Dagon; they used it as a cover. The Esoteric Order of Dagon, back in Innsmouth--they was really worshippin’ Him.”
“So, there really was no Dagon… except…”
“’Cept for ye.”
“See, t'was but a front--yet it was… well, it was like--a double bluff. They acted like they used Dagon for a front fer worshippin’ Him, when in fact, there really was--or was going to be--a Dagon anyway. They was protectin’ the secret of Dagon, and in so doin’, they was protectin’ the secret of… Cthulhu.”
“Yes. It was all in the name of Him, of Cthulhu, and that’s why ye have to help me, instead. I know there’s good in ya, boy, I know there is. Ye has to help me, and not them.”
“Mustus… Are you absolutely sure of all this?”
“I’m pretty sure…”
“’Pretty sure’ doesn’t convince me--I need facts.”
“I don’t know what else I can do. Ye’ve seen the Deep One downstairs. Ye seen the paper I showed ye.”
The old man looked me, grabbing my arm.
“Tell me ye’ll help me. I need yer word. Ye gots to help me.”
“I don’t know what you expect me to do.”
“Come with me--ye knows where we’re going to go, ye been there already.”
“Yes, and that reminds me--how is it, exactly, that I had a dream--and you were in it, talking to me? Talking to me, well, as if it was real, and not a dream?”
“It weren’t no dream, ye knows that.”
“Somehow, yes… but…”
“But nuthin’. Ye’re under their spell. Yer one of ‘em. But ye can fight it. Ye can help me fight them.”
“You have to quench your thirst for revenge, for what they did to your wife Emma.”
“Yes. And to me…”
“But, if you’re one of them--“
“Okay, if you were one of them, why don’t you just go back to them? What’s the big deal? Your wife, in your own words, is there, with them. Surely she would be happy to see you again?”
“If ye had a wife, would ye done give ‘er over to some… monster, as a sacrifice? Or to birth more monstrosities? Would ye?”
“No, I don’t suppose I would.”
“I’m an old man. They know about me, they know where I’m at. I can’t go back to ‘em, even if I wanted to. I don’t know how long I can hold ‘em off. Sooner or later, it’s gonna be me or them. If I gotta go, I’ll damn sure take some of ‘em with me to hell.”
“Mustus, I would really rethink this.”
“Ain’t nothin’ to rethink. My mind is made up. Now, are ye gonna help me or not?”
“What do you want me to do?”
At that, the old man laid out his plans, and I listened. There was a voice in the back of my head, telling me to leave and to leave now, but I ignored it. I wanted to hear what it was that he had in mind. Then, I would gauge for myself if I would partake of this lunacy.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
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…
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.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Folding up the parchment map and stuffing it in my pocket, I picked up the heavy flashlight and proceeded into the gloom. To my left, hanging on the wall, was a bracket mounted at head level, holding a few torches, as well as what looked like flints. My uncle (or whomever) had a somewhat regular need to be here, which told me one thing: there must've been something down here, at some point. I picked up a torch, struck the flint against a rock placed just beneath it on the ground, and lit it. I decided to conserve the battery power in my flashlight, for the deeper depths of these darkened halls of earth. I noticed also that the rock on the ground where I struck the flint had many such markings on it, from other individuals that had been here in times past.
The walls and ceiling seemed to be hewn out of the underground earth by hand. As I walked down the dark tunnels, I wondered who dug them out, and why. I also wondered about how much manpower it took to perform such a task, if the vast network indicated on the map was to be construed as accurate. Perhaps, I considered, it may have been some power other than man.
I couldn’t be sure why, but I had a sudden, sharp feeling of déjà vu. This attack was so instantaneous, that it made not only my mind reel, but my entire body. Looking around, I saw nothing at first that could have triggered such an episode. The walls and ceiling were simple earth and rocks, the floor for the most part being dirt, with occasional large rocks in the ground, perhaps intended to be stepping stones. With the déjà vu passing, I proceeded again.
I removed another of the sardines from the resealable tin. Since I was certain that whatever I was destined to find, if anything, wasn’t going to be a beautiful nude woman waiting to sweep me off my feet, I continued munching on the fish.
The fact that torches were provided as well as worked down here meant that there must be some type of oxygen supply further ahead, which indicated that this claustrophobic tunnel did indeed lead to some other area along the coast.
Along the wall, I was beginning to see symbols. Some were etched or scratched into the rocks in the sides of the walls, while others were painted or drawn in crayon or chalk on the rocks or in the earth of the walls themselves.
As to what the symbols were and what they meant…
Some of them seemed to be glyphs or some type of alien writing. At first, I shrugged them off as some strange, ancient form of Hebrew or Greek, but then, it occurred to me that I had seen something like these before. I took out the map, and noticed that some of the symbols on it corresponded with what was written on the wall. Not sure what this meant as of yet, I continued on, making a mental note of them.
If my watch was any indication, a period of thirty minutes had already elapsed since I had entered the tunnel. Assuming that I had come at least a mile or so, I decided to make a marker for myself, just to be on the safe side. I drew a Roman numeral “I” on the wall, on the surface of a slab of shale wedged into it.
Pressing on, I saw that the artwork along the walls not only became more elaborate, but it also became more frequent. To my right was a mural painted onto the wall (which, I noticed, was made of stone now). The mural depicted what looked like a man in a black robe, with a head colored green, with tentacles emerging from the area where the mouth should be. It was that High Priest from the photograph that Mustus had shown me. Surrounding him on either side were beings, that walked like men, having two arms and two legs, but were green and scaly, like fish. These beings also bore the piscine features of fish on their loathsome heads, just like the photos I had seen at Mustus’ home. All along the edges of this mural were depictions of conches, shells, crabs, starfish--all types of deep sea life. These depictions in the murals were of goings on taking place under the sea.
Turning to my left, there was a mural that illustrated a castle of sorts, or fortress. This fortress seemed made of impossibly-angled architecture, and was huge in scale, compared to the whales, squids and sharks swimming about it in the painting.
I wondered to myself if anything like this might exist under the oceans. After all, mankind had only explored very little of the expansive seas, some depths being too dangerous for men to descend. It didn’t seem likely, but who knows…
Above this fortress, painted in red, were letters from the English language, though this arrangement was either totally foreign or nonsensical. This time it appeared to be an entire sentence. It read: “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fgtagn”.
Glancing below the fortress, written in red in the sand depicted at the sea floor in the painting, was the translation: “In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu lies dreaming”. Cthulhu? R’lyeh? Lies dead, but dreaming? What the hell? I thought I may have heard the name “Cthulhu” before, from the old man. But what is “R’lyeh”?
As a rational man who was interested in the darker things of life, I was, admittedly, enjoying this. As a practical man that thought he had mastered his particular field, I was somewhat agitated, not knowing anything at all about these matters. I also felt as if I should or did know, but somehow, was being blocked from remembering.
Not sure what to make of this swirl of thought entering my mind, I decided to carry on. For about another mile or so down the tunnel, to my left and to my right, mural wall paintings abounded. They displayed deep sea creatures, the likes of which I’ve never seen before; they showed Deep Ones, the “mer-men” that walked like men but lived under the sea; and they showed what looked like normal men and women having interactions of every kind with Deep Ones.
There were many murals of some type of giant “fish-god” deity, and more than one illustration of an even larger deity, the beast I had noticed earlier in the attic amongst my uncle’s old statues and junk. The being that was of titanic size, with bat wings and tentacles.
Was this the “Dagon” that Mustus had mentioned? Or perhaps this was supposed to be Cthulhu? I had wondered why yet again that sense of déjà vu had come over me, as I studied the grotesque details of these two beings.
I remembered Mustus speaking of a “Dagon”, and the Hall of Dagon in Innsmouth. He also mentioned that these Deep Ones were acolytes of this Dagon creature.
As for who or what this “Cthulhu” is (was?), I had no idea.
But based on the malignant statues I saw in my attic, what I glanced at as I perused those strange books earlier, and these marvelous yet terrifying mural paintings it seemed as though it was indeed something ominous and terrible.
The déjà vu still clouding my mind, I wondered why this mammoth being, in all of it’s infernal glory, seemed so familiar to me? I also wondered why I felt no actual fear, even though at first glance, this thing--even in statue and painted form--instilled fear and absolute respect at the same time within me.
Where had I seen this before? Surely not in any science fiction pulp magazine… But if not there, then where? As I pondered this, I became aware of something that I had not noticed earlier--water. I could feel a coolness, and indeed hear--running water. It was possible that an underground river lay ahead.
As I descended further into the darkness of the tunnels, I noticed that along the walls, the murals had stopped, and were replaced by an even more elaborate form of art--carvings out of the stone walls themselves.
As I stared in awe at the amazing yet horrific art carved into the very walls themselves, I also noticed that the floors were also covered--with the very same type of stone flags that my uncle had used to cover his cellar floor. I wondered if there was some connection; there most certainly had to be, considering his cellar was an entrance into this cryptic and mysterious realm.
The carvings on the walls depicted a ritual of sorts, step by step. The High Priest with the tentacle mask, a nude woman, and a Deep One.
Their macabre union that followed, and then some of the beastly “Dagon” again.
As I studied the carvings, I found myself stepping into an antechamber, which was round and about the size of the entire lower floor of my house. Everything was paved over in stone flags and all of the walls were covered in carvings of all sorts, from Deep Ones to Dagon to human men and women, in a great variety of blasphemous activities.
The center of the room was… the altar? Yes, the altar. Except this particular altar was for Deep Ones; this altar was a pool of water, it’s edges flush with the floor, yet having a decorative tile surrounding them. The area was covered in slime and water, as if there was some overflow here.
I also noticed that there was a tunnel, paved and showing elaborate carvings dead ahead on the other side of the altar pool. This was apparently the destination of that long, dark tunnel I had followed for an hour or so from the cellar.
My uncle, building tunnels, worshipping these Deep Ones?
I couldn’t quite believe it, but then, my uncle always was a little bit on the macabre side, much as I turned out to be. And my father had spent a lot of time here visiting, I recalled; before he went off to the wars.
I leaned over the edge of the pool, and peered down into the murky water. It was hard to see much by torchlight, but I thought I could see something down there. Possibly fish? I wondered. Turning the torch downwards, closer to the water, I saw a face staring back up at me from the depths.
With a sudden shock, I screamed out and I dropped the torch right into the water. Before it snuffd out against the surface of the water, it illuminated partially what was down there, for a fraction of a second, and that was long enough to know that it was sheer horror. A Deep One. One of those submariner horrors, like the one that I had seen chained up in the sump beneath the old man’s house.
I panicked, checking through my pack, fumbling like a madman, trying to find the halogen lamp that I had brought with me. As I did so, I felt a cold, wet claw grab hold of my ankle. The grip was like steel. The thing was trying to pull me into the water, under the water. Finding the flashlight, I turned it on, and shone it at the surface of the water. With a muffled roar of disapproval, the thing let go of me, shielding it’s terrible, bulbous fish eyes from the harsh, synthetic light, amidst a showering of air bubbles.
With the shock subsiding, I gathered my wits--and my pack--and began to retreat the way I had come. I made it as far as the beginning carvings along the walls of the hall, and turned back. I saw, to my horror, that this creature meant to have me, for it was rising out of that scummy pond. Webbed, slimy talons came up first, then that hideous face, in all of it’s piscine strangeness. Not wanting to see any more, I turned and started to run back up the way I had come down the dark hallway. This time I had the blinding light of the halogen lamp to lead the way, and pure adrenaline and fear to fuel my running.
Seeing the doorway at the end of the tunnel, I was panting and my chest aching from the arduous journey and the frightful shock I had just experienced. I stopped to catch my breath, thinking that something as large and cumbersome as a Deep One--literally a fish out of water--would never catch up with me. That’s when I heard that deep, throaty breathing, coming from not too far away, accompanied by a wet, slogging, shuffling sound. I turned to look behind me with the lamp; about ten feet away, there it was. Shielding it’s eyes again, it continued it’s shambling gait towards me.
Again, launched into action by pure adrenaline, I sprinted the last few feet to the door, fumbling with the locking mechanism. “Open… Open, damn it… Open… Come on--” I moaned. Opening at last, the groaning, heavy door gave way. I was quick to ooze into the house through the narrow opening, seeing Max on the other side, barking incessantly. I turned to look behind me, and there it was, an arm’s length away. And that’s when the beast just stopped. It halted and stood there, staring at me with an almost quizzical expression on its face. Giving in to panic and fear, I slammed the door right in the “face”--if one could call it that--of this beast, and locked the door with the key, hanging it back up where I had found it.
The creature pounded once on the door, then trying the handle again, seemed to give up. I could hear it’s heavy breathing and growling on the other side of the heavy wooden panels. Max, still barking, may have scared the thing, though I doubt it.
With my back to the door, I slid down into a sitting position, exhausted. I pulled Max over to me by his collar. “Good boy,” I said, petting and hugging him. He wagged his tail a bit, but still pulled away from me sooner than he ever used to, before.
Not sure what to make of that, I decided I had bigger problems than my dog acting strange. It’s not every day one discovers an underground ritual chamber beneath one’s home, and certainly not a pool that produces sea monsters. The thought of the thing, and it’s easy access to the door that leads into my home set me fraught with despair for the rest of the night.
It seemed that despite all this, I wasn’t too concerned, though. My curiosity was already returning, causing me to wonder why my uncle had done all of this, and just what his connection was to that area down there, meant for the worship and ritual of some aquatic beings.
I wondered if he had known of these beasts. How could he not? One doesn’t build a place of worship or ritual, without expecting something to happen, or someone--or something--to appear.
I also pondered why had the creature chased me all the way up the corridor, then stopped and just stared at me?
A distant sound came from down the hall behind me, heard dimly through the closed door: “Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li… Vor’li’ka.” I started, hearing this piping ululation.
Nothing followed for the next few minutes.
Eventually, I decided that the thing had gone.
Somehow, that call--whatever it was--seemed as if it was directed towards me; by name. But, what does “Vor’li’ka” mean? I decided that I would go see the old man again tomorrow, and get some answers. Wiping the cold sweat from my face, I turned off the light, and proceeded back up the stairs, ready for a good night’s sleep.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I took out my names journal, and researched my own name for once, instead of that of some philosopher or long dead fiction writer or his characters.
Ambrose: “Protector of Men”. Strange; not what I expected. But then, I don’t really buy into a lot of this stuff. I just write about it.
Smith: “Blacksmith”. Well, I didn’t know much about my past family life or their ancestors, but I suppose one or more of them could have been blacksmiths. Wait, though. What was it the old man had called me? Alexander? Ambrose Alexander, not Ambrose Smith.
Alexander: “Belonging to the Immortals”. Strange, indeed.
I wondered if my parents had researched these names, and their meanings, when choosing my name. If the old man was correct, and my name was somehow “Ambrose Alexander”, my name literally meant “Protector of men, belonging to the immortals”.
Pondering this, I listened to the thunder and rain outside.
I went upstairs, on impulse, to the dusty, old attic.
There was the obvious junk up there, to be sure: Christmas decorations, old clothing, my uncle’s old yearbooks and scrapbooks. But there were the items that I had noticed earlier, during my search for the intruder. Statues, small and somewhat large, ranging in composition from regular coarse stone to what looked like jade. There was also one carved from some type of greenish-gray stone, like a soapstone of sorts. What was strange about the statues more than their chemical make up was their subject matter; most of them were of some fish-type creature, walking on two legs but clearly having scales and piscine features.
Some were the reverse; there was a man’s torso, with a fish’s tail, like a traditional mermaid. One statue was carved in wood, about a foot in length, and much heavier than it looked. It was some being, crouching on top of a rock. This being, or rather, this creature had large wings folded up against it’s back; wings that came down in points and ended in claws. It had a massive head and it’s body was carved to represent it being covered in scales. Grotesque talons protruded from its hands and feet. Most striking of all, though, about this thing, was its massive head featured eyes that seemed to be knowing, or intelligent. And another weird thing, it had a mass of tentacles protruding from just under it’s evil looking eyes, where it’s mouth should be located.
There was one of a simple bas-relief, on a sort of round tablet. It was carved into some strange, smooth, black stone, which I had never seen before. I noticed immediately that in the center was some type of large opal, or a pearl, or some jewel of the seas that I had never seen before. It sparkled in the center of that black tablet. Inscribed all around this strange, alien jewel were odd symbols with some type of text or cuneiform that I had never before encountered.
Most of the artwork--and I wondered what type of people regarded such things as “art”--was of something I was becoming quite accustomed to now: Fish.
Or rather, fish-like creatures. Half-men, half-fish adorned many of the carved inscriptions on the tablet. The carving at the top was the largest, resembling a pair of batwings, with a mass of tentacles and two large, fearsome eyes inlayed over the wings. It was the same being, or at least an artistic representation of it, as the one in the statues. Still, apart from the statues, it struck me as something rather familiar, but I couldn’t remember what or where.
Surely it was some story I had written about recently? Perhaps, maybe, some remnant of recognition of some “fish tale” that the old man had gibbered to me yesterday? Heaven only knew my mind still was reeling from that macabre afternoon.
Scanning the bottom of the plate, I perused the other of the two larger inscriptions. It was of another beast, somewhat larger in scale in comparison to the two figures carved next to it. I knew immediately who the figures next to it were--a man and a woman, covered in scales, with those now all-too-familiar piscine features. They stood on either side of a much larger being or creature, who appeared just as they did. I noticed that the male and female “Deep Ones” in the carving wore hats, or possibly, crowns.
I was having a sudden déjà vu, and I wasn’t sure why--but these thoughts of inscriptions of fish creatures and other blasphemous obscenities from the sea were riveting my memory back to something. Something I could not as of yet quite identify.
But fish men… Deep Ones… Wearing a crown…
Crowns… Hieroglyphs… Deep Ones… My mind was reeling, almost as if I was under the mesmeric influence of some sinister hypnotist. My mind raced, thinking of the creature in Mustus’s basement, of all that he had told me of my parents. I remembered what I had read about my supposed birth in that old newspaper. And then, I heard it.
Some strange, high-pitched sound, like a squealing, or a flute. Yes, a flute-like sound, and it was coming from outside the house. The attic had a round window in it as well. I rushed over to the window, pulling the latch down, and opened it. I pushed my head outside, the cool, stormy salt air brushing my face and blowing through my hair. All I could see was the cloudy skies, the churning seas, and the sand.
I heard it again. It was a high pitched sound, like a flute, but it seemed to be… talking. What it said, I cannot say, but it was no animal. Animals are not so articulate.
The wind came in through the window, and blew so hard that it knocked over some rolls of ancient-looking papers that were stacked up on a table in the center of the attic. The rain was starting to blow in, so I closed the shutters.
Intrigued by the ancient paper that had just become uncovered, I walked over to the table where it was located, and held it up to the light hanging from the ceiling. It was an ancient map, seemingly from a time long before I or even my parents were born. Perhaps even older than that.
After an invigorating hot shower, I put all of my dirty clothes in the laundry, and prepared a meal of meat and pasta. I went to the study, noticing Max. He had decided to come out from his hiding place, investigate his food dish, and sleep. He still refused to go outside. He also seemed a little more satisfied that I was his original owner, a human, and not some suspicious stranger.
While the storm still raged outside, I sat down in the study, the warm glow from the lamps filling the room with light. I hadn’t bothered to remove my uncle’s decorations throughout the house, not really having the time. I also liked the “old world charm” about the place, due to those somewhat antiquated decorations, so I left them. Many photographs and paintings of family members adorned the place throughout.
I sat at the desk, and uncurled the maps.
The first map was of the sea, though which sea I was not sure; there was an island or land mass located in one part of this ocean, and a larger one off to the right side. None of these continents had a name to them, but rather some rune or symbol on each one, which I could not translate. I was fairly certain, however, that the larger continent on the right was that of my home, the coast of Oregon, beneath the state of Washington.
The second map was of some vast labyrinth, or tunnel network. I wasn’t sure what this was supposed to be, or from where, but if I was reading this correctly, it seemed that there was a house or building, with a way to an underground network of tunnels located directly beneath it. I noticed that the map was charted in miles. According to this, I was in the very area the map covered. There, about two miles to the west, was the old, disused lighthouse that I would normally walk to down the beach with Max.
And according to the map, there were miles of tunnels, beneath this very house, leading to what appeared to be other houses along the coast. Some of these tunnels led to other areas that were not houses, but I wasn’t sure what they actually were. To my knowledge, there were no structures, though according to the map, these could possibly be underground domains of some kind. Storm or bomb shelters, perhaps?
Deciding to investigate, I hurriedly put on some warmer clothes and my heavy boots, assuming that the way beneath would most likely be watery or at least muddy. Gathering up some supplies and stuffing them into my backpack, I noticed my supper, still sitting on the desk in the study, untouched. I put the plate of food in the fridge, looking down at Max, laying under the kitchen table. The look he gave me back was almost perceptible as “Don’t go!”--more a warning than a plea, I thought--but I seemed overtaken with the desire to explore this new territory.
“Stay, boy,” I commanded. I wasn’t sure he intended to come along anyway.
Steeped in thought, I wondered if perhaps my uncle had left valuables hidden in one of these tunnels. Or maybe they were the way to oil, or petroleum. I could be rich.
Descending into the cellar again (assuming that is where the entrance was going to be), I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched. Jerking my head suddenly behind me, I saw only the stairs and the door above. I felt silly for being so paranoid, but I still couldn’t explain those wet footprints in my house, though I was starting to liken it to imagination and a restless sleep. The shock of that beast Mustus had chained up in his own cellar still stayed with me throughout my sleep, I supposed, and perhaps the water was just from my getting the newspaper earlier that day, or from the previous night when entering the house.
I scanned the area in the dim light of the bulb, and didn’t see anything located on the floor. No trap doors or others entrances, like the one old Mustus had. The floor here was laid out in neat, rectangular flagstones. Could my uncle have paved over this entrance? The map didn’t specify exact entrances, only tunnels and destinations.
I decided to look along the walls; possibly there was some priest-hole style entrance, that needed a pulling of a secret lever or switch to open it. Deciding that the light offered by the lone, dim bulb swinging overhead of the stairway was not enough, I turned on the heavy halogen lamp I had brought with me.
The place was awash now in bright, artificial light, and it became easy to see everything. I noticed that there were bookshelves down here as well as shelves of preserved food and supplies. On one shelf were the tins of sardines, some pressed, dried fruit, and bottles of water. Deciding to take some with me for provisions, I put some of each item into my pack. My uncle had become increasingly paranoid in the last year of his life and had taken to provisions, shelters and such, though we were never sure what caused this behavior. Since he had only passed away last year, this food, being preserved this way, should be perfectly edible still.
I tore open a tin of the sardines, and gulped down a few, while I studied the bookshelves I had failed to notice earlier.
Gods, if only I had bothered to fully investigate the house earlier, I would have had much more material to write about in my column for the Gazette. I could easily glean a few years or more worth of writings from these mad tomes.
The dusty old shelves were stocked with an occultist’s veritable dream collection of books. I noticed many titles that seemed completely alien to me. But then, it was starting to seem that in the past few days, I was becoming more and more humbled as an “occultist”. Apparently, there was more going on in the world than mere devil-worshipping cults and the raising of biblical demons in the name of power or sex.
I saw Feery’s “Notes on the Necronomicon”, Herzinger’s “Neo-Aquatic Civilizations”, the “Cthaat Aquadingen”, Keogh’s “Book of Vampires and Undead Fiends”, and “Manifesto of the Maleficent” by Zandar, to name a few.
There was also a strange, very large book; actually, more like a sheath of papers and notes. These were all handwritten, clearly by someone with not much schooling in literature and proper grammar. It was bound by hand, and the front and back “covers” consisted of wood.
The front read as follows: “Seth Bishop, His Book:: Being Excerpts from the “Nekronomicon” & the “Cultes des Ghouls” & the “Pnakotic Manuscripts” & the “R’leh Text” Copied in His Own Hand by Seth Bishop in the Yrs. 1919 to 1923”.
However, the contents of this book’s writings, questionable literature aside, were intriguing. They contained descriptions, drawings, rites, spells and more, concerning such gods and deities that I’d never heard of.
Most of these gods were elemental in nature, while some were more metaphysical, perhaps metaphorical. There was Cthulhu, a water deity, Ithaqua, Master of the Air, also referred to as the “Wind Walker”. Hastur, who resided currently in the celestial darkness, was apparently a bat-like creature. Next mentioned was Cthugha, the Lord of Fire, followed by the burrowing Shudde-M’ell of the earth.
Bishop wrote of Lloigor (another air deity); Yog Sothoth, who was said to be the “All In One, One In All”. There was mention of yet more--Shub Niggurath, the “Goat with A Thousand Young”, Azazathoth (referred to as the “Blind Idiot God”), the hardly pronounceable Tsathoggua and Nyarlathotep, Zhar (“the mad”), and finally, Arinot of the Fourth Dimension and the Cosmos.
Intrigued to no end by these curious and hardly believable tomes, I stacked them in a pile on the workbench that was in the corner of the room. Glancing one more time at the shelf before setting to the original task at hand, I noticed a large, deep red leather-bound book, which simply bore the inscription “LOVECRAFT”. I reached for this book and made to pull it out, but when I tugged upon it, it only slid forward just a bit--and to my surprise, the bookcase itself jerked forward slightly.
At first I thought that I’d pulled the bookcase out away from the wall a bit because the book was lodged in somehow. Upon closer inspection, I realized the book was not a book at all, but a mechanism. My original task in the cellar was solved. I had found the entrance I originally sought!
Moving the massive bookcase aside a little further, I saw a heavy, oaken door, latched shut. The door was inset inside of a heavy frame, which while behind the big bookcase, was not noticeable at all. Inside the frame, a lone key hung on a small nail hammered into the side. Taking the key, I unlocked the door, which protested with a whining, creaking groan at being opened after God only knows for how long.
Monday, September 21, 2009
As I gleaned all the information that I could from those moldy, old newspapers, I remembered my mother and father. My mother was as much of a “plain Jane” as any lady. She liked shopping, cooking, makeup. My father I knew for a short time, for he had gone off to fight in the war that destroyed most of the major powers during the 1930’s; he was subsequently killed during the fighting over Pearl Harbor. Or at least that was what I was told.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized, I never had any proof of this, and only my mother’s word, whom I had lived with in the sterile town of Salt Lake City since that young age when I last saw father.
Funerary rites involved the scattering of father’s ashes over the sea. I began to wonder now what the truth really was, and how it all involved me. Or perhaps I’m just being a fool, and falling prey to the whims of some crazed old fisherman. But then, the evidence seems undeniable, if a little circumstantial. But that creature underneath the cellar…
I also can’t seem to admit to myself the feeling that came over me, when I saw it. Revulsion, at first, as well as fear, to be sure; however, I wasn’t quite prepared to feel… pity. But then, that couldn’t be… Who could pity such a horrid creature, and why would they do so? The thing was an abomination, and most certainly meant no good to the human race.
The human race… I was starting to get drowsy, and began to nod off…
I was there, floating, in the water, gazing at the stars above me in the nighttime sky… I noticed all around me, suddenly, strange creatures…and they saw me. I tried to move, but I could not. They swam towards me… I noticed they had the body that was generally shaped like a man, but looked more piscine; scales, fins, webbed hands, eyes and the mouth of a fish. One of them spoke- a low, throaty, croaking--but it--he?--spoke. He said “Vor’Li’Ka…” Now, why should that sound familiar? The thing in the water motioned for me to follow him… and to my surprise, he dove head first, under the water. How did he expect me to follow? I immersed myself underwater, and saw a whole group of these aquatic beings, all surrounding me below the surface of the water. I began to panic, thinking that I would drown if I didn’t go back up. During these few seconds, I also thought it odd, that I did panic, but only about losing my breath underwater--not about being surrounded in the sea, miles away from any noticeable land, by strange, fierce looking beings that were… not men. The creature that spoke to me beckoned at me again to follow. To my surprise, I found that not only was it of the utmost ease to slice through these green ripples of ocean with my body, but I found it exhilarating. The full moon, waxing gibbous over us, lit the sparkling seas as we threshed to the surface. The lead merman stopped short, and turned to face me. He pointed straight ahead; I followed the direction where his webbed talon pointed, and saw it--an island. An island, small, secret--out here, in the Pacific. I noticed some buildings on it; some ruined, some intact. The moonlight beamed down all over the island, lighting it up in an eerily incandescent way out here, on the sea. The merman thing--the Deep One?--motioned that I should go to the island. The others in the group submerged back under the water, while the lead Deep One and I headed for the shore of the island, several meters away. As I walked to shore, I felt no chill, despite being naked. The Deep One that walked with me glistened in the moonlight. I suddenly felt as if I knew where I was, what I was here for. I walked ahead, forgetting the Deep One that came with me. I walked ahead into a series of columns, some slanted with age, some still jutting straight up, twice as tall as a man of average height. I noticed carvings all over these columns; some of men, some of Deep Ones, some of fish. There was a creature in one of the carvings, larger than the others, that was some massive being, with wings like a bat, and a great, massive head that displayed tentacles, like that of an octopus, but jutting from the place where it’s mouth should be. That is, assuming this were some normal being, and not some strange, piscine deity. Some of these carvings depicted the Deep Ones in tribute to the large octopoid being. Some showed Deep Ones interacting with men. The Deep One that accompanied me to the island was beside me now; he pointed to the last column in the row, which was placed between the two rows of all the others. I examined it carefully, and noticed that the “story” was told, from top to bottom of the thick column. The “story” was of a child, apparently a human child, since it bore no resemblance to a Deep One’s appearance. This child bore a crown of sorts upon his head, and he was with a human female, and a male Deep One. The next tier down depicted what was now very familiar to me--my new home, the west coast of North America. Some lines radiating outwards from the relief of the landmass of the north American continent must have been intended to indicate… movement? Yes, movement, outward--to sea--from the land. Next tier down was a human male, wearing the crown the child in the carving above was wearing; obviously, this was the same person, at an older age. But what connection does a human of royalty have with Deep Ones? Or is it the other way around? I looked over the carving again, and noticed the human male was standing, arms outstretched, while a Deep One stood on either side of him; but they weren’t conveying fear--quite the contrary. They seemed to be basking in his presence. I looked over at the Deep One where it stood beside me. He pointed to the man in the drawing with the crown, then to me--and said “Vor’li’ka.” When I was about to speak, the Deep One suddenly turned and shambled down the causeway, between the rows of columns, and rushed back into the water, splashing wildly as it submerged into the nighttime sea. I looked up, and saw a pink dot on the horizon; sunrise. I turned, reluctantly, to leave. I wanted to see more, learn more… but somehow, I knew I’d be back. I jumped back into the ocean. As I did so, I noticed one of the Deep Ones, far off in the distance, the way I had originally come from, watching, thoughtfully stroking it’s large, scraggly beard…
"What connection does a human of royalty have with Deep Ones?"
I opened my eyes to a dark room. I leaned up on the edge of the bed, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. I stretched, groaning with delight as the tension left my aching muscles. I wasn’t sure why my muscles should be so sore; all I did yesterday was visit that mad, old man, and climb his ladder to hell.
As these thoughts passed through my mind, I noticed there was a strange odor on my hands; no, my entire body, my bed seemed to be saturated with the cloying odor of the sea. But how could that be? I likened it to having spent so much time yesterday with the somewhat crazed old man in his house in the port, and down in that sump, with that horror in the chains.
I didn’t recall showering when I arrived home--just studying those newspapers he had given me. I thought perhaps it may be my clothing that smelled; I checked the garments I had worn the previous day. They did reek of the sea as well, but not nearly as strong as I myself did.
I also noticed something that sent a jolt through me, banishing the last vestiges of sleep from my foggy mind--sand. There was wet sand along the edges of my pant leg bottoms, and my shoes. And my pants were not only caked with sand around the bottom edges, but they were still wet around the bottoms of the pant legs. Wet? Sand? What the hell was going on? Had someone been in my home, while I slept? Not likely…
I didn’t recall ever going anywhere outside of the house in the port with Mustus, only from my car to the porch, then inside. There was no sand in that cavern below his house--only dry rock where I was standing. Certainly not ankle deep water or sand. I was not prone to sleep walking, nor did I have to let my dog Max out last night. Simply likening it for the moment to something in the cavern at the house in the port, and not thinking too much more on it, I descended to the kitchen, for a cup of coffee and some breakfast.
Stopping in front of the circular window at the end of the hallway upstairs, I peered out and noticed that the skies outside over the beach were swirling and gray, getting ready to storm. I thought it odd that I should end up here, on beachfront property on the coast of Oregon, when I had been so inherently afraid of the water at a young age.
Since my uncle had passed on, he left the house to me, since nobody else existed any longer in our family. I must admit, I find the sea somewhat relaxing these days, despite having childhood fears of the water. I looked around, without success, for my dog Max. I finally found him, whimpering, far off to the back of the house, in the laundry room.
“What are you doing, Max? Here boy… What’s wrong?”
He seemed to back away from me, then began growling, as I reached for him beneath the chair he had stuffed himself under.
“What the devil is wrong with you, old boy? It’s me…”
Still growling, he shrunk back even farther.
“Max! Come out of there… What the hell’s your problem, boy?”
“Okay, then stay there. You’d better not piss on the floor, then…” Deciding to tend to my own needs, I went to the kitchen again.
As I made a beeline for the coffee pot, I stepped in something. Something… wet…
I looked down, fully expecting to see a puddle of urine from Max; what I saw made the everyday problem of one’s house pet soiling the floor seem trivial by comparison. I had bigger problems. It was water; plain, dirty, seawater, with some sand mixed in with it. The troubling thing was this--it was in the shape of a large, webbed foot.
The tracks stood out almost glowingly, against the yellow tiles of the kitchen. There were more tracks, side by side, leading from a sliding glass door that opened out on my deck, which opened out onto the sea.
What the hell… Footprints? Webbed footprints? I suddenly remembered my sand and seawater caked pants upstairs. Had someone been in the house, and somehow, for some bizarre reason, worn my clothing, then left the premises? Or…
Could they still be here? Worse, could it still be here?
Not sure what I was looking for, and hoping desperately that I would find nothing, I began searching the house methodically. I thought to myself that suddenly Max’s strange behavior made more sense now, though why he would growl at me was puzzling, but perhaps something had frightened him so badly, he was in shock.
I grabbed a baseball bat that I kept in the hall closet for just such occasions, and began up the stairs. I noticed that the footprints ended at the beginning of the stairwell, but the steps were carpeted. I felt down on the plush of the carpet, checking for moisture or sand. I found both.
Not much, but enough to be a telltale sign that someone, or something, had been in my home, and only recently, while I slept. Mustus, perhaps? But he was more or less an old hermit, save for his fishing trips; but for what reason could he come to my home, and to break in covertly, then leave? No valuables seemed to be missing.
I checked the rooms upstairs--nothing.
Deciding to check the attic, I opened to the door that led to it. Creeping upstairs on dusty steps, only my uncle’s old junk remained. I noticed quite a few trinkets and items of nautical origin. There were also many stone carvings and statues, seemingly of a foreign nature. Certainly nothing one would find locally.
Curbing my curiosity, I made a mental note to come back later and delve into the mysteries of this attic at another time. I descended back down from the attic, then back downstairs. Only one place left to check. The cellar.
The mere thought of this filled me with dread, after what I had seen in the cellar at the house in the port belonging to Mustus Marsh.
“You’re being ridiculous,” I said aloud, more to curtail my fear than for any other reason. Descending into the cellar, I flipped on the antique light switch on the wall, illuminating the single bulb hanging above the stairwell. Holding the flashlight in my hand, I looked down there, noticing that there were no wet footprints on the dry wooden steps.
Nothing here. Just the stone flags along the floor, walls of shelving units, still holding bottles of wine and preserved jams, fruits and other foods (presumably from my uncle, preparing for a hurricane, or some great catastrophe). I noticed that there seemed to be a curious amount of preserved sardines and fish.
Looking over to the left, I spotted a door that led to outside from the cellar, which opened from the side of the house, but it was locked.
It was locked. And determinedly so, I noticed, with not one, not two, not three, but four sliding bolts, from top to bottom, as well as the lock installed in the doorknob itself. Finding this somewhat odd, I likened it to my uncle being extra cautious, presumably against burglars, since it is downstairs, and one could foresee it being the entrance of choice, being somewhat more isolated.
I looked out the dirty single pane in the door, seeing only the slowly boiling clouds outside over the beach. Deciding there was no intruder after all, I ascended back upstairs, not fully satisfied that the mystery of the intruder was solved.
I decided that wet footprints or not, I was starving, and went back to the kitchen to prepare my breakfast. Dumping out the sludge that was yesterday’s coffee, I thought bacon and eggs sounded good, but as I reached for them in the refrigerator, I suddenly had a sharp craving for fish. I decided against bacon, and found some crab meat I had purchased at the market a day or two earlier.
Frying it up in a pan alongside the eggs, I poured a cup of coffee, still wondering exactly how or why wet footprints, with webbed toes, appeared in my home, and while I slept. Taking my eggs and crab on a plate, along with a cup of coffee, I walked outside, into the gently blowing winds of the oncoming storm. I saw the footprints lead all the way from the bottom of the deck. Following them backwards from the top of the deck and down the steps, I saw that there were prints that were in the sand as well, leading all the way to…
If I were to take the evidence at hand, then I could deduce that some being, perhaps a Deep One, as Mustus had referred to them--a foul smelling, loathsome fish-thing--had swum up to the shallows, walked on two legs out of the sea, strode up to the shore, proceeded to my deck, and then entered the house. But for what purpose?
Stranger still, there were no tracks or any indication that this beast had left the house…
But having checked it from top to bottom, I was satisfied that nothing was inside, save for my strangely behaving dog Max. Gazing out to sea, I watched the crashing waves and the occasional fish springing forth from the water, as the rain began to come down.
I went back inside the house, leaving my half eaten breakfast in the sink, making a mental note in the back of my mind that I had only eaten the fish. I decided to go back to my study, and pore over the mystery imparted to me by the old man. How he insisted that I came from a somewhat questionable beginning, and that I was not the person who I know I am, but somebody else entirely.
Archive of Stories
A PLANET OF YOUR OWN
THE FALLEN GUARDIAN'S
David Agranoff is the author of the
Daniel José Older's
Daniel José Older's
THE PORCELAIN WOMAN
Icy Sedgwick is part writer and part
armed to the teeth
BLAG DAHLIA is a Rock Legend.
A NEW METAPHYSICAL STUDY
REGARDING THE BEHAVIOR
OF PLANT LIFE
Shae is a poet/artist/student and former
Nigel Strange lives with his wife and
THE HOUSE IN THE PORT
J.R. Torina was DJ for Sonic Slaughter-
K.B. Updike, Jr's
THE GOLDEN THIRD EYE
K.B. Updike, Jr. is a young virgin