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Friday, September 25, 2009

THE HOUSE IN THE PORT:pt 10

by J.R. Torina




CHAPTER XVII



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.”

Vor’li’ka…

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?”

“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.”

“Other things…”

“Fer example, I showed ye the paper last time ye were here, remember? The paper about the test tube baby?”

“Yes?”

“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…?”

“And, most of them people out there, they left and came… here.”

“Here, to Portland…”

“Yes. Here.”

“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.”

“Where?”

“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.

“What? Where?”

“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?”

“Yes.”

“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.”

“What?”

“He’s alive.”

“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.”

“Exactly.”

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.

“Well…”

“Well, what?”

“Accordin’ to legend… and to yer father… ye are the redeemer. The savior, I guess.”

“Vor’li’ka?”

“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.”

“What--“

“Dagon.”

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…”

“Him?”

The old man just looked at me, not daring to speak His name aloud.

“Say it.”

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.”

“Not lately.”

“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.”

“Cthulhu…”

“Yes, yes…”

“So, there really was no Dagon… except…”

“’Cept for ye.”

“Dagon…”

“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.”

“Me…”

“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--“

“Never.”

“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.



Click Here for Part 11 of THE HOUSE IN THE PORT
by J.R. Torina

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