Beneath the Waves - By Wilbur Howley
No one will believe me. Even as I write this, I cannot help but believe I have gone mad. For what I have witnessed cannot be real. Can it?
There are creatures that dwell along the Cursed Archipelago. Monstrous things. Horrors born out of my deepest nightmares. Twisted and alien things. Like brutish apes whose fur has fallen off due some dread plague. I found them fascinating. They have a culture, or rather, they have the trappings of a culture. The corpse-like remains of what may once have been religion, or perhaps even art. Now, now they barely have language. Just guttural, sinister noises, where speech may once have been. But beneath the growls and the cannibalism, there is the vestige of ritual. The memory of society.
Dead, but not entirely forgotten.
So, I studied them. I studied them for weeks that blurred into months. I began to see the patterns, to see the shadow of who they once were. I saw them pray, if prayer it could be called, to the broken remains of what may once have been a shrine. A single object, black stone with great hands rising out of the ground, it was the centre of their half remembered religion. Something about it both unnerved and enthralled me. It was as though the black stone was singing to me, but the sound was felt on my skin rather than heard. A siren song that whispered of the promise of salvation and immortality beneath the waves. Each note an invitation, a drowned promise. As I slept I heard its song in my dreams.
They heard it too.
I watched as three of the creatures simply dropped their weapons and walked with dread purpose straight into the ocean. I watched as they refused to fight back against the waves. I cringed as they gasped for breath but let themselves drown. In horror I saw their heads disappear beneath the surface of the dark sea and I knew that they would not return.
Oh, how I was wrong.
Three days later, on a moonless night, the first one returned. She rose majestically out of the water, with purpose and a newfound clarity. She walked upright, not the hunched stance of the natives, a rekindled intelligence shone from her eyes. Eyes that had been replaced with shimmering pools of strange red light. She was taller than before, I noticed this as she emerged from the unnaturally calmed waters. As she emerged, I saw the true horror of what she had become. Where once there were powerful, ape-like legs, now there emerged a mass of monstrous writhing tentacles. They were the disgusting slime of rotting fish, and blood red as if recently fed. She was without a doubt the most horrific sight I had ever seen and yet I was enthralled by her.
I cannot describe it. It was as though her ugliness was a form of beauty so profound that it moved me. Like a walking piece of art, but the sort of artwork that reviles and makes one's skin crawl. An alien beauty. A terrible beauty. I was not the only one so enchanted by her. The creatures, these ape-like horrors, flocked to her, not in violence, but in awe. As they stood around her, she would preach to them. Preach to them in some alien tongue that they seemed to understand, if not speak themselves.
At times, I felt she was preaching to me as well.
One day later, her congregation had grown large and dangerous. The horrors clamoured to hear her words, but they were too numerous and she only one. Fights broke out among the horrors, they slaughtered one another just to move one step closer. Soon their battle screams drowned out the words of their risen priestess. In response, the oceans rippled and another creature began to rise.
I was immediately filled with horror as this creature rose from the depths. Her face had gone. Instead a horrific gaping maw remained, a terrible mouth full of row upon row of misshapen teeth. Teeth to rend. Teeth to grind. Everything about that mouth promised nothing but the consumption of all living things. Her arms had withered away into useless, limp hanging tendrils. But from her back emerged the same arms of black stone that I had seen in their sacred shrine. As soon as she emerged, she let out a terrible keening noise and the horrors each fell silent. They backed away in terror, recoiling from this dread creature. But the one of those black arms beckoned and the horrors, solemnly, approached.
I had to fight the urge to join them.
Though the two priests kept the horrors inline, either by their seductive words or simply by instilling in them a terrible, primal fear. But still there were some of the horrors that could not hear. That began to retreat back to their caves and dens, escaping the dark sermons of these strange priestesses. So, once again, the waters provided a solution.
What rose from the waters may have once resembled one of the horrors, but no longer. It was like some terrible spider, or crab, where the limbs were formed by twisting and stretching a horror's body across some alien frame. The spindly legs were all formed around one central mass. But rather than the abdomen of a spider, or the shell of a crab, all they formed around was one enormous eye. Silvery, like the moon which still hid from them. I knew it could see me. I knew it could see into my heart and into my soul. It knew me and it judged me and I could see the horrors share the same feeling.
Between the three of them, the horrors were corralled. Each of them whispered words from a dark and alien sermon.
Each of them promised knowledge. Each of them promised power. Each of them promised immortality. All just beneath the waves.
So, if you are looking for me, let this journal be a map. For I will join them in eternity. If you're looking for me, you just need the ocean guide you to me.
I'll be waiting, beneath the waves.