banner art above by Charles Carter

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


by J.R. Torina

“Well, no. Maybe if you gave me the right people to talk to…“

Interrupting, he cried out “But ye kint go there, ye kint! If ye go, they’ll take you too. Ye crazy or somethin’?”

“Well, I have this story I’m due to turn in for my paper, but believe me, I don’t wish to put anything of your personal life. But the rest--it sounds like a story to me, Mustus. What about here, in Portland?”

“Ye go near Innsmouth, even jis’ near it, you’ll be sorry. And they’re even worse out here.”

“Is that a threat, Mustus?” I was becoming a little worried.

“No, no threat--it’s a fact. People there don’t take to strangers. And it’s about that time o’ the year now, that the Deep Ones, they’ll be rising outta the sea, for more of…” His voice trailed off, as he cast another sorrow-filled glance down at the obscene photo of his wife and that piscine abomination.

“Alright, Mustus; you invited me here for a reason, and I gather it wasn’t to show me dusty old photographs, and it’s obvious now you don’t intend for me to write this piece for my paper. What, then, are we working towards here?”

“I wanted ye to come here so I could warn ye off of writin’ this story fer yer paper. I want ye to drop the whole matter--that’s why I called ye here. I figured if I showed ye enough stuff about what’s goin’ on over there, ye’d jis’ give up an’ forget it.”

Something didn’t add up. He originally asked me here, but now he was saying he asked me here to warn me off of the whole thing? I wanted to try something… So I asked him, “Obviously you’ve read my work before, right?”

“Of course, that’s how I came to ask ye here.”

“Well, being a what, a student? Yes, a student of the esoteric, the strange, even the macabre--you have to understand that I need to investigate this further. If anything, I can--or even we--can rip the lid right off of this whole foul situation. You can help me. You can help yourself. You can… you can have your revenge in this way.”

“Oh, I’m plannin’ my revenge, all right,” he said.

I should have just left then and there, like the voice in the back of my head was telling me to do, but… That damnable curiosity that led me to write accounts of the unexplained and the weird for my paper had a grip on me, as it always must. I wanted my first real job for The Gazette to be a doozie. “What do you mean by that?” I asked.

“Nuthin’, jis’ nuthin’. I’m thinkin’ that someday, someday I’ll go back, and maybe bring me a gun or two. They may take me down with ‘em, but at least I’ll take some of ‘em down with me.”

“Mustus, that’s ridiculous. Why let yourself get killed, when we could simply call the authorities? Especially after the public learns of this, if I could print the story?”

“Ain’t nothin’ the gover’ment kin do, boy.”

“How so? Surely the armed forces, the health department, the…”

“Back in the 1930’s, the gover’ment, they went out to ol’ Innsmouth, and they went out in force. They burned most of the village, the wharves--almost everything. Many of the people were rounded up--some say they was jis’ killed, in secret, or studied…
Then, they bombed the living hell outta that island out there off the coast.”

“What island?” I asked.

“Devil’s Reef. That’s where the real evil was takin’ place out there.”

“An island--called Devil’s Reef? They met there--these… Deep Ones?”

“Yes. Them gov’ment men, they bombed it to kingdom come, then they sent submarines out into the seas off the coast, but I dunno what they was doin’ out there; some say they torpedoed the island, some say they destroyed an underwater city. Other folks believe it may have been ol’ Dagon hisself they was shootin’ at.” His voice was reaching a fevered pitch talking of all this, as if he had really been there.

“Were you there at this time?”

“Yes I was. An’ I jis barely escaped with my life.”

From whom, the Deep Ones and their acolytes, or the government, I wondered to myself.

“And… Emma? Your wife?”

“She… She stayed… She… left with… them…”

Confused again, I pressed him for more.

“You mean, the government agents?”

“No, no. She went into the sea. With them. The Deep Ones. She’s one of Them now…”

“You mean, she was a willing vessel, for more of those obscene creatures? You mean, she sacrificed herself, for you, but then left with them? Into the sea? How? Why? I don’t understand…”

“They have ways, they do. They git in yer head. When they mesmerize ye, it’s hard--real hard--to break their spell.”

“And you… you’ve broken this spell? Only you?”

“Yes, I did--because of what they did.”


“Yes. They forced us--forced her to make the decision she did--to sacrifice herself for me. So she gave herself up. But, she was like ye--she was naïve, young. She thought if anything, she would be a prisoner, or killed; she prob’ly never dreamed she would turn into one of ‘em.”

“That’s as good a reason as any, I would say, for revenge, Mustus. But I still think that you should wait.”

“That’s not the only reason!” he yelled.

He took off his jacket, throwing it down on the dirty couch. He unbuttoned his shirt, revealing scales on what was a strangely smooth chest. Upon looking upwards, I noticed for the first time what his shirt collar had covered earlier--gills. He had gills in his neck. Small ones, to be sure, but gills nonetheless. I couldn’t believe it. Now it all made sense--his grotesque appearance, the smell…

“You… you’re a Deep One? Or an offspring?” I asked.

“No, not a Deep One--never was, never will be. But they have been breedin’ off the coast an’ on the land, in Innsmouth, fer longer than either ye or I been livin’. My parents moved there ‘fore I was born. At least that’s what I was told. My grandfather told me the story, only he’s dead now. All I know is, I got Deep Ones' blood in me. Ye kin see, can’t ye?”

I nodded, saying nothing.

“My parents, they… had an accident.”


“My mother and father, they was out off the coast, not too far from Devil’s Reef, fishin’ one day, when one of the deckhands yelled out he saw a mermaid.”

“Come on, a mermaid? How can you believe--“

“Believe it,” he blurted out, interrupting me again. It was obvious to me that Mustus needed to vent all of this information out, and that whether or not he deemed it to be in print was still unclear to me. But, of one thing I was now certain--somehow, I was to play a part, at least in the old man’s mind--in his “revenge”, or at least in some type of vindication he must be seeking.

“Believe it, young man. Only this weren’t no mermaid, not in the traditional sense. It weren’t no pretty girl with a fish tail. This were a true Deep One, scaly all over, sharp teeth, glossy eyes… you saw it in the picture.”


“Well, I remembered something about my father saying he wanted to move to a different port other than ol’ Innsmouth; he had heard too many bad tales of that place, and would rather’ve moved his family elsewhere, like Cape Cod. But I remember, he said, that he went there against his better judgement, that it was my mother who insisted they go to Innsmouth.”

“So, your mother was already somehow under the influence of these Deep Ones?” I asked.

“Yes. She ended up much the same way my Emma did, only my father told me later, he told me, that she went willingly.”

“Went willingly? To where, to Innsmouth?”

“No. She went willingly--into the sea, when those mermaids--those Deep Ones--started calling. She jumped right over the side of the boat, she did.”

I was astonished.

“So, your mother leapt over the side of the boat, leaving your father there; and he apparently had no clue what was transpiring?”

“He knew only very little. Only rumors and stories about Innsmouth; nothing solid. No facts. At first he thought maybe she’d taken ill while out at sea, and for some reason jumped in. It wasn’t until she popped her head out of the water, surrounded by Deep Ones--her smiling back at him from the water, all glistening wet and naked--that he realized the truth. That somehow, not only were the stories he’d heard true, but he’d realized that he had been used. Used to make a new baby, and that his new baby, still in the belly of his pregnant wife, was now floating in the sea, surrounded by Deep Ones, those beasts from the depths.”

Fascinated by this tale, I had almost forgotten that Mustus was still before me, shirt hanging loose, exposing his offensive fish odor and ichthyic appearance. I must have been staring in disbelief and shock, because the old fisherman suddenly buttoned his shirt back up, and put his jacket back on.

“Come on, I got to show ye somethin’.”

Click Here for Part 4 of THE HOUSE IN THE PORT
a novella to be serialized in 12 daily installments
©by J.R. Torina

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Sean Padlo's

Sean Padlo's

Sean Padlo's exact whereabouts
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Konstantine Paradias & Edward

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choice. At the moment, he's published
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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
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over a hundred and twenty times in
four languages, most recently at
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Daniel E. Lambert's

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Adam Bolivar's

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