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.