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Monday, September 14, 2009


by J.R. Torina

the Diary of Ambrose Smith

OCTOBER 13, 1951

Here I am in Portland, Oregon. I can’t say I really miss Salt Lake City. There wasn’t much happening there, though I did make a few friends that I’ll surely miss. But the offer to come to the beautiful and dark coast of Portland, working in my dream field, was just too enticing to pass up. So far, I’ve had quite a time getting all of my things unpacked into Uncle Varley’s house that he willed me. Shame about the poor old man. Max is very excited. He already can’t wait every day to run down the beach and jump into the ocean. He even caught a fish once. A true hunting dog, if ever there was one. A dirty dog, too--I had to bathe and shampoo him twice already, and I’ve only been here for two weeks. The Portland Gazette had caught wind of my extra-curricular activities and interests; in particular, my (somewhat unhealthy, according to Mom and Dad) interest in the macabre. Oregon seems to be a hotbed right now for secret cults and their activities, as well as UFOs, martians, Bigfoot--you name it. I have already received a note from somebody here who has heard of my affairs. The Gazette had recently reprinted a few of my columns, those that I have already had published before in pulp magazines such as Fantastic Science Fiction. This fellow--whose name is Mustus Marsh, of all things--claims to have a plethora of insider information on a secret devil-worshiping cult from somewhere along the coastal towns; apparently they meet, have rituals, and even sacrifices. I’m sure it’s just some crazy old fisherman’s tale of people he just doesn’t understand, but--what the hell. I bet the “cult” in question is probably some religious sect, like the Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses. But a good reporter can’t afford to turn down any leads now, can he?


“Innsmouth? I remember ol' Innsmouth, fer sure,” chortled old Mustus Marsh. “I remember them ol’ houses, all sagged and in disrepair, the Order’s new building… and them Innsmouth folk…” Here, his voice trailed away. His face seemed dreamlike and almost lost in time.

It was here that I first noticed the weird distorted features on Mustus’s face… His strangely… piscine? Yes, piscine features. His head seemed as if it was once as large as, if not previously larger than, a normal man’s; yet, it seemed as if it were pressed inwards from the sides. His ears also bore something of those strange qualities. They seemed flattened, almost pressed into the sides of his head.

But these were not the worst of it. His lips, or rather, his mouth; it was so very wide, almost as if it were a parody of a normal man’s mouth. It had to be at least five inches across; his lips were thick, ropey--unbelievably so. His teeth… Those terrible teeth… Small, like a child’s, but sharp… rather like a fish.

But, most terrible of all--those eyes. The eyes appeared glassy and very moist. In fact, almost dripping wet. The eyelids, what there were of them, shrunk back almost completely behind the orbs of his eyes. Upon this inspection, I noticed something peculiar about his skin, even around the shock of mane he called a beard, which was ragged and coarse looking. Were those… scales? Surely my imagination was playing tricks on me. Scales… on a man?

"Ain't no devil a Christian man kin make up that rivals the devils I’ve seen"

The hoarse sound of the old man’s voice brought me out of my serene investigations of his fish-like features, and back to the moment, sitting on his rotting porch, surrounded by refuse and filth.

“The Order o’ Dagon, they had themselves a buildin’ that was all new and such, while the rest of the town went to hell.”

To hell indeed, I thought--but not, most likely, in the same way Marsh was referring to.

“Well, the Order’s buildin’ their church, and the Refinery,” said the old man.

“Refinery?”, I asked him.

“Yep, they--the Marshes, I mean--had themselves a refinery they ran, refinin’ oils and salts from the sea.”

“But, surely, that was just the cover story, right? I mean, they just used that refinery as a front to make money for their real activities--didn’t they? The Marsh family, I mean? They were really actually devil worshippers--weren’t they?”

Here the old man shot me a look. “Ye think so, boy?” he asked. It was almost a challenge.

I simply froze, not knowing what I had unlocked here.

“Best ye come see. Ain’t no devil a Christian man kin make up that rivals the devils I’ve seen. I’ll show ye.”

Cursing myself for a being a fool for even coming here alone, I stood up to leave. Before I could muster up an appropriate lie to just get the hell out of there, the old man’s gnarled hand was on my elbow firmly.

He opened the front door.


The old door was warped and rotted. Its paint was flaking and peeling off all over; the knob, a rusted antique, was loose and rickety, barely hanging in the door itself. The first thing to assault me was the unbelievably oppressive stench of fish. As if reading my thoughts, the old man called out in front of me, “Don’t mind that stink, I jis’ been doin’ some night fishin’. Fishin’s always better at night. Ain't done cleaned anything yet.”

I found it curious to note that there was no fish to be seen anywhere, nor were there any freezers to keep said fish in. Thinking it best to keep this observation to myself, I said nothing.

After an awkward moment, I offered some paltry conversation, lest the old man suspect my observations or discomfort in this filthy den of decay. “What were you fishing for? Cod?”

“Heh, well, jis’ about anythin’ I kin catch, ye see," the old man laughed.

He rummaged through a few stacks of musty old tomes lying about on a pitted and scarred oaken table in the den. Some of them literally spewed dust as he opened them. He continued peering inside to glean their contents.

“Ah, here we are!” he exclaimed. Slapping the old leather-bound book onto the smaller but equally ancient and battered coffee table, he motioned me to sit down next to him, on what was one of the filthiest, dirtiest couches I had ever seen. A myriad of stains colored it here and there, and the dust of centuries enveloped the thing.

I looked up, and saw various plaques on the wall of animals he had pulled from the sea. Some of them, like the occasional trout or cod, were rather large, but somewhat normal; normal, mind you, compared to some of the other things he had. Whether or not they were real, I don’t know. There were plaques with deep sea anglers--both male and female. There were blow fish, porcupine fish, barracudas, and a few other varieties that I just didn’t recognize.

The shelves along the other wall contained a carny’s dream. Preserved fish, a shrunken human head, a human skull, various occult trinkets (they appeared to be of an occult nature, anyway; at any rate, they were esoteric, to be sure), and an arsenal of books, most of them dealing with magic, the occult, or ancient civilizations.

“The guy in the doorway--he’s got… fangs?”

Again, the old man’s voice me away from my attentions to the details of this bizarre rookery of occult books and objects. “Ye can see here the hall itself”, he said, pointing to the picture on the first page. The paper was yellowed, curled, torn; the picture contained therein was a black and white photo, in relatively decent shape, considering the weathered condition of the book it was kept in. The photograph was of a church, or cathedral, ancient in design. Even though it was night in the photo, I could clearly read the sign in front of the building, declaring it as “The Esoteric Order of Dagon”.

Before I could ask the old man who or what “Dagon” was, or what “the Order” was about, he asked another of his cryptic questions: “Notice anythin’ strange?”

I noticed two or three dark figures in front of the edifice in the photograph, as if making their way inside. From the distance the picture was taken from, one could not ascertain who exactly these figures may be. “Well, it’s very… old?” I asked him, not sure what he was getting at.

“No, no, well, yeah, it’s old, fer sure, but what else do ye notice?” he asked.

I looked again. “Give me a hint,” I asked.

“Lookit them, the folks--what do ye see?”

I looked yet again--more closely this time. I noticed that two figures, somewhat slumped, were heading up the steps of the cathedral. One from the right, similarly bent over, was also heading in that direction. “So, some of the people here, they seem to be… deformed?”

“Yea, yea, and--?” he asked excitedly.

I looked at the fourth figure in the photograph. It was a man, a person--a being… wearing a robe, but--what was that? He seemed to have… fangs protruding from his lips?

“The guy in the doorway--he’s got… fangs?”

“Not fangs.”

“Well, what?” I asked.

“Remember what ye heard, why ye were investigatin’…”

“I am investigating rumors of purported devil worshippers and human sacrifice in the coastal towns out here,” I exclaimed. I wondered why he asked me something he already knew.

“No, ye’re not.”


“No. Ye’re gonna be investigatin’ fish men. Deep Ones.”


“Fish men, that come from the sea--they look like a man--two arms, two legs--but that’s all. They have scales, fins, webbed fingers and toes. They been breedin’ with people here--and back east, on the coast there too--for years.”

“Excuse me…?”

“Yes, yes, ye gotta believe me.”

“Piscine creatures--that walk upright, like a man--in the villages of men, off of their coasts; and worst of all, intermingling… and breeding with… men.”

“Yea, yea, you got it so far,” the old man carried on.

Click Here for Part 2 of THE HOUSE IN THE PORT
a novella to be serialized in 12 daily installments
©by J.R. Torina

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Archive of Stories
and Authors

Sean Padlo's

Sean Padlo's

Sean Padlo's exact whereabouts
are never able to be fully
pinned down, but what we
do know about him is laced
with the echoes of legend.
He's already been known
to haunt certain areas of
the landscape, a trick said
to only be possible by being
able to manipulate it from
the future. His presence
among the rest of us here
at the freezine sends shivers
of fear deep in our solar plexus.

Konstantine Paradias & Edward

Konstantine Paradias's

Konstantine Paradias is a writer by
choice. At the moment, he's published
over 100 stories in English, Japanese,
Romanian, German, Dutch and
Portuguese and has worked in a free-
lancing capacity for videogames, screen-
plays and anthologies. People tell him
he's got a writing problem but he can,
like, quit whenever he wants, man.
His work has been nominated
for a Pushcart Prize.

Edward Morris's

Edward Morris's

Edward Morris is a 2011 nominee for
the Pushcart Prize in literature, has
also been nominated for the 2009
Rhysling Award and the 2005 British
Science Fiction Association Award.
His short stories have been published
over a hundred and twenty times in
four languages, most recently at
PerhihelionSF, the Red Penny Papers'
SUPERPOW! anthology, and The
Magazine of Bizarro Fiction. He lives
and works in Portland as a writer,
editor, spoken word MC and bouncer,
and is also a regular guest author at
the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.

Tim Fezz's

Tim Fezz's

Tim Fezz hails out of the shattered
streets of Philly destroying the air-
waves and people's minds in the
underground with his band OLD
FEZZIWIG. He's been known to
dip his razor quill into his own
blood and pen a twisted tale
every now and again. We are
delighted to have him onboard
the FREEZINE and we hope
you are, too.

Daniel E. Lambert's

Daniel E. Lambert teaches English
at California State University, Los
Angeles and East Los Angeles College.
He also teaches online Literature
courses for Colorado Technical
University. His writing appears
in Silver Apples, Easy Reader,
Other Worlds, Wrapped in Plastic
and The Daily Breeze. His work
also appears in the anthologies
When Words Collide, Flash It,
Daily Flash 2012, Daily Frights
2012, An Island of Egrets and
Timeless Voices. His collection
of poetry and prose, Love and
Other Diversions, is available
through Amazon. He lives in
Southern California with his
wife, poet and author Anhthao Bui.


Phoenix has enjoyed writing since he
was a little kid. He finds much import-
ance and truth in creative expression.
Phoenix has written over sixty books,
and has published everything from
novels, to poetry and philosophy.
He hopes to inspire people with his
writing and to ask difficult questions
about our world and the universe.
Phoenix lives in Salt Lake City, Utah,
where he spends much of his time
reading books on science, philosophy,
and literature. He spends a good deal
of his free time writing and working
on new books. The Freezine of Fant-
asy and Science Fiction welcomes him
and his unique, intense vision.
Discover Phoenix's books at his author
page on Amazon. Also check out his blog.

Adam Bolivar's

Adam Bolivar's

Adam Bolivar's

Adam Bolivar is an expatriate Bostonian
who has lived in New Orleans and Berkeley,
and currently resides in Portland, Oregon
with his beloved wife and fluffy gray cat
Dahlia. Adam wears round, antique glasses
and has a fondness for hats. His greatest
inspirations include H.P. Lovecraft,
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a Romantic poet for as long as any-
one can remember, specializing in
the composition of spectral balladry,
utilizing to great effect a traditional
poetic form that taps into the haunted
undercurrents of folklore seldom found
in other forms of writing.
His poetry has appeared on the pages
of such publications as SPECTRAL
CTHULHU, and a poem of his,
"The Rime of the Eldritch Mariner,"
won the Rhysling Award for long-form
poetry. His collection of weird balladry
and Jack tales, THE LAY OF OLD HEX,
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David Agranoff's

David Agranoff's

David Agranoff is the author of the
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Press, 2018), Flesh Trade (co-written
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Space, 2017), Punk Rock Ghost Story
(Deadite Press, 2016), Amazing Punk
Stories (Eraserhead Press, 2016),
Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich (Eraserhead
Press, 2014), Hunting the Moon Tribe
(Eraserhead Press, 2011), The Vegan
Revolution...with Zombies (Eraserhead
Press, 2010), and Screams from a Dying
World (Afterbirth Books, 2009).
David is a hardcore vegan and tireless
environmentalist. His contributions to
the punk horror scene and the planet in
general have already established him
as a bright new writer and activist to
watch out for. The Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction welcomes him and
his defiant vision open-heartedly.

David is a busy man, usually at work
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a world teetering over the edge of
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Sanford Meschkow's

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We welcome him here on the FREE-
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Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking's

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking's

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking currently
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Owen R. Powell's

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Gene Stewart
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Gene Stewart's

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Daniel José Older's

Daniel José Older's

Daniel José Older's spiritually driven,
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Paul Stuart's

Paul Stuart is the author of numerous
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Rain Grave's

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Icy Sedgwick's

Icy Sedgwick is part writer and part
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G. Alden Davis's

G. Alden Davis wrote his first short story
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not enough, and left for art school. He was
awarded the Emeritus Fellowship along
with his BFA from Memphis College of Art
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is a Burningman participant of 14 years,
and he swings a mean sword in the SCA.
He's also the best friend I ever had. He
was taken away from us last year on Jan
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Together we were a fantastic duo, the
legendary Grub Bros. Our secret base
exists on a cross-hatched nexus between
the Year of the Dragon and Dark City.
Somewhere along the tectonic fault
lines of our electromagnetic gathering,
shades of us peel off from the coruscating
pillars and are dropped back into the mix.
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I'd rather think that Greg Grub's inimitable
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another manifestation of light itself, a
purple shift shall we say into another
phase of our expanding universe. I
ask myself, is it wishful thinking?
Will we really shed our human skin
like a discarded chrysalis and emerge
shimmering on another wavelength
altogether--or even manifest right
here among the rest without their
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shrinking away into a withering heart
glittering and winking at us like
lost diamonds still echoing all their
sad and lonely songs fallen on deaf
eyes and ears blind to their colorful
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of this old world taught him. We
explored past the outer peripheries
of our comfort zones to awaken
the terror in our minds and keep
us on our toes deep in the forest
in the middle of the night. The owls
led our way and the wilderness
transformed into a sanctuary.
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will always remain tattooed on
the pages of my skin. They tell a
story that we began together and
which continues being woven to
this very day. It's the same old
story about how we all were in
this together and how each and
every one of us is also going away
someday and though it will be the far-
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Shae Sveniker's

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Nigel Strange's

Nigel Strange lives with his wife and
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J.R. Torina's

J.R. Torina was DJ for Sonic Slaughter-
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(an industrial-ambient music label) and
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K.B. Updike, Jr's

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published 100% for free:
(We are not certain if K.B. Updike, Jr.
has lost his Virginian virginity yet.)