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Ever since I could remember, ever since I had been a child, I had been afraid of the dark depths of any sea or deep lake. Dark blue or green water had a nauseating affect on me, and seaweed dancing sinuously at the bottom of pools made me shudder. Worse than that, however, was the feeling I got when viewing a large, upright stone or the hulk of a barnacle-encrusted wreck of a ship or submarine looming, ghost-like, out of black waters. Sights like these made me tremble with fear and look constantly over my shoulder, afraid to one day see behind me a rusty hull, corroded pale green by barnacles, swaying and creaking horribly…
At the same time as being horrified, I found the fear ridiculous. Far away from any truly large bodies of water, and therefore, far away from any sunken ships – besides which, how would they just appear behind me? – I was safe for the nonce.
However, two years after receiving my degree in archaeology, I found myself relegated to an island off a coast of South America, with a group intent on digging up a series of standing stones, the tips of which had been spotted by a native over a week ago.
I soon came to realize that our entire excavation was a mistake – we should have given up early on, we should have not even come. I am not a superstitious person by any means, but as bad luck and accidents continued to assail us, I knew that someone, something, was trying to warn us away.
At first, it was merely storms, and I was silent, believing it to be bad luck, nothing more – storms were highly common around this area, after all. But the storms became wilder and wilder, and when this did not deter us, an odd brittleness seemed to creep into our tools, which broke over and over. Nervous jokes became common within the group, but my suspicions were only aroused at this time.
Our communication to the outside world kept going down, technical difficulty after difficulty, which caused our excavation to halt almost completely time after time. I suggested we give up our endeavor, but my advice was turned down – we were halfway done, the others argued, we couldn’t just give up on such an important discovery, not just because of a little bad luck.
But it wasn’t just bad luck. If only the fools had listened…
So, we continued. Storms had not stopped us, nor had difficulties with tools or communication. Now, the presence that was trying to warn us became harsh. Accidents began to happen, accidents that, at first, merely wounded our pride. Harsher still, the presence became – twisted ankles and wrists, sore muscles, fevers and sickness, broken bones. I had become frantic. I pleaded for them to stop. They tried to soothe me with promises that tomorrow would be the last day – only a few more pounds of earth, and then we could see the stones, the strangely carved and shaped stones, in all their glory.
Tomorrow came. The stones were uncovered, and rose from the ground like a row of rotting teeth. They had an odd, pale green tint to them – an odd tint that makes me shudder to remember it now. We thought it was some kind of vegetable matter, but when one from our group tried brushing it off, he found that the residue on the brush was curiously like rust. Even still, it was easy to see the strange markings carved into the stone, markings that seemed to hover above the foul coloring, markings that depicted… but I cannot, will not describe it fully. The damned implications… a scaly being larger than a whale… bulging, fishy eyes, gills, bloated lips… monstrosity from that dark, indistinct world I so feared and hated… half fish, half… God, I must stop, I am already half-mad…
A figment of imagination from a long dead culture. After realizing that this was all it could be, the group breathed easier. Silly to be so fearful of an obviously fake being, created by a people who were merely thankful to the bounty of the ocean.
That deep, dark, hateful ocean…
The day passed quickly. No accidents, no bad luck, no difficulties. We contacted our base in Washington, preparing transportation of the stones. We stood around our discovery, unease replaced by a moment’s pride, sharing opinions and hypothesis about our megaliths.
Perhaps, after all, we had merely been jinxed – if only that was the case. That night, I was to realize that our luck had not changed, but had merely worsened. The presence that had tried so desperately to chase us away, to protect us from our horrible fate, had left us, had given up. Such is the folly of man and his greed for knowledge, knowledge of dark, unknown things, things that mankind should not awaken, things mankind has no earthly right to know about, lest madness wrap around us and drag us screaming into the black abyss of Sheol…
That night, my peaceful sleep was interrupted by a noise, a noise that haunts me right now as I struggle to keep quiet, to not scream and alert it to my hiding place – a noise that has, however, strengthened my resolve to end everything after my tale is told. The world must know that some things are better left alone…
I awoke slowly, not realizing what had jarred me out of my dreams at first. But as my grogginess faded, and the noise grew louder – it was coming closer – I began to shiver beneath my light cover.
The creaking… the creaking of a rusty ship, looming out of the dark, behind me…
I darted out of the tent, looking wildly around for the thing that could make such a sound on dry land. Left, right… up.
And when I saw the monstrous sight, looming over the trees, staring with its glazed, bulging eyes, its mouth with the puffy, obscene lips parting to make that sound, a wild scream tore from my throat and I ran. I ran from it, leaving my comrades behind like a coward. I can only pray that they were able to run, to hide, and if not get away, I pray their end was quick and painless, although I fear that is not the way of this beast.
I do not know what we unearthed. I do not know what was so important about those grotesque stones that the daemon surfaced because of our finding them. I do know why huge stones and wrecks under fathoms of water bother me so – it was never the object, but the resemblance to a half-remembered, aeons old dark being, covered in barnacles, pale green and white and red-brown in color, making that awful, nonliving creaking noise, slowly appearing, rising, rearing out of dark, unknown depths…
I am thankful I sleep with a pistol. Now I will end it – for I know there is no chance of escaping. Even if I could, what of my sanity? I have seen the thing, I have seen Dagon, fish god of man’s earliest ancestors, unholy creature that still resides in our being… and yet, my tale will merely be laughed at. I will be confined to an asylum…
So I will put the gun to my head, and pull the trigger, and sweet, peaceful oblivion will be mine.
The creaking. It’s so close. I would have been fine… have died quickly, with some semblance of sanity intact. But the noise caused me to pause, to stiffen, and to slowly set the gun down. I continue to write because I do not want to give into my maddening desire to look over my shoulder. But I must. I must look, even though I could pick up the gun right now and end it all without looking… because I know what I shall see. My greatest fear will be realized once I finish this sentence – when I turn and look, I will see a rust colored body, corroded pale green by barnacles, swaying and creaking horribly…
Credit To – Apocrypha
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