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Monday, September 28, 2009

THE HOUSE IN THE PORT:pt 11

by J.R. Torina





CHAPTER XVIII


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.

“Star stones?”

“Ye don’t remember yet about ‘em, but they’re used against Deep Ones, acolytes, Shoggoths…”

“What? Shog--“

“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.



CHAPTER XIX



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.

“Vor’li’ka…”

“Yes… I am…Vor’li’ka.”

“My… son…”

I stopped cold.

“…Father?”

“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…”

“And myself?”

“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.




Click Here for Part 12, the conclusion of THE HOUSE IN THE PORT
by J.R. Torina

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