The reason I have been at this place for the not wholly sane, for nearly ten years now, is a long and not completely comprehensible affair. To understand it fully I must begin at the beginning.
On September 20th, 1920, I had begun my job at the Massachusetts Fishery, not but a few weeks before my twentieth birthday. It was a plain and uninteresting job. The fishing boats returned to the docks at dawn, and my part was to help the men unload the vast nets filled with fish, into the large metal storage tanks. The scent there was a putrid odor. A salty, and yet oily scent, which mixed with the ice in the great aluminum containers to form an overwhelmingly powerful stench. Further down the docks, in another part of the factory, where the fish were prepared for shipping, one could smell a scent not unlike that of heavily sugared prunes. A scent I recognized as the smell of the remaining sea-water intermixing with the blood of the freshly gutted fish.
* * *
The morning of the 25th of the following month, I was to join the fishing expedition, in place of my normal job, for I had worked hard and had been greatly understanding in the whole fishing operation. This understanding came from the fishing trips with my uncle during the bright years of my youth. He owned a small boat and net, with which we used to catch a score fish or so on an occasional weekend. We only kept a few of what we caught, giving most back to the sea, but I was always fascinated by the technique of the casting of the nets and the skill required to catch the fish.
The eve before the fishing expedition of the 25th, I could not find rest. I tossed and turned for hour after restless hour laying in my bed. My body ached as if it knew of some uneasiness lurking about in the depths of the oceans.
About one o'clock in the morning I had begun to prepare for my journey. I had noticed, as I made my way to the docks, even in the very dim light that the stars gave, that the sky seemed to be blackening, as if a great ink cloud had begun to spill and flow across the blanket of night.
I arrived at the docks and found the crews of our two boats making final checks and readying themselves for the voyage yet to come. They were not fishing craft of immense size, just two average small craft, about fifty feet in length. One was named 'The gale mistress' and the other 'The sea mistress'. I was to be stationed on the later, for that was the ship which launched its nets to join to the other. Mind you this is by no means a simple operation, but much simpler than the tasks to be done aboard the other craft. The captain, my boss, bid me welcome and with a firm hand shake lifted me aboard. As he patted my shoulder he yelled to the crew to shove off, my journey was about to begin.
When our trip began the ocean was calm and serene, as if it still slept. However as we reached the ocean depths the winds began to blow, wailing an eerie call. It made the sea churn, and swell, as if the sea bed itself hungered for something it did not yet hold. The sky began to answer to the seas, calling sheets of rain to pour down upon us. The nets were cast and we began to hope that the fish would not be frightened by the rain and threat of the oncoming storm. As a precaution the captain ordered rain gear to be put on and the proper precautions taken.
Suddenly the sound of the calm rain was interrupted by a horrendously loud crackling explosion. We looked about the sky in wonderment and our thoughts were quickly answered by a flash of lightning which nearly blinded us all. In this split second of light we had discovered that a great portion of the net had spilt open. The captain summoned me over to fetch the lantern and signal the other ship to reel the net in from its far depth.
The winds began to sway our two ships back and forth. The forming clouds began to cause the sea to churn further and throw us about. It was as if the sea was trying to tip us to the side long enough for us to slide off our boats to find our watery grave.
It would seem from the events to follow that we ourselves controlled the storm, for as the ships approached one another and the net shortened, the lightning flashed and the thunder roared more and more frequently.
The wind began to pick up to a furious pace. The rising and falling of the boat had now made it difficult to stand, for if the throwing of the boat did not imbalance you, the sea spray would.
In the freakish light of the storm I noticed that the tentacle of a great octopus had become entangled in the net. It's width was that of a grown mans arm, but its color was what disturbed me the most. It matched that of a violet on a warm spring morning, a purple not wholly blue or green, but of a deep violet, perhaps with a touch of black.
As I saw it a great chill ran down my spine, as if deaths cold touch had reached out and clawed at my back. As the net was collected further onto the boats deck the appendage had grown to enormous size, for it matched the size of my own leg in width. To my surprise, with the illumination of the lightning and claps of thunder warning us of our ever growing danger, another tentacle was spied tangled within the recalled net, which now lay upon our storm drenched deck.
The pulling of the net ceased and we agreed to see if this creature need be cut loose, and if we were to loose our net. Quick as Mercury himself the captain grabbed a spear gun from the wall, raised it to his shoulder, and prepared to fire. My shout had struck my throat as the spear had struck the side of our sister ship. To my surprise there had been a thin wire line connecting to the spear, which was now made invisible by the night, looking like a thin spider line swinging in a cool breeze. Lanterns made their way sliding across the line to stop at the middle. Though thrown and tossed by the churning sea storm they managed to stay lit, and reasonably secure to the line. We strained to see to the net below, and noticed not an octopus as we had expected, but something completely unreal. The count numbered not eight, but twelve tentacles in all, and stranger still before disappearing out of view into the depths below they reached the size of a full grown man's chest in size.
The sea began churning and tossing us about horrendously, as if the light had disturbed some great sleeping beast. The sight I now saw below had left me stunned and speechless, for I could see not only the tentacles counted before, but many others all moving with their own life spark as easily and adeptly as you or I move our fingers.
Then it happened. Suddenly out of the darkness of the ocean depths I saw lights. Two great lights rising from the ocean floor, growing, lights which looked like a thousand stars held in two great globes coming out of the blackness of the ocean towards me. As I screamed in horror I heard a great splash near the aft of the ship. Chaos ensued, as the storm raged, the lightning flashed, and the creature struggled. Shouts arose about the ship, "My god, Jenkins is overboard!"
There was a great crash as if a tree were just split in two. Dozens of creaking exploding joints, the wood sounding not unlike bare bones splitting, could be heard over the storm. Screams, dozens of horrific tortured screams filled the cold stormy night. Alarmingly I noticed the lack of light, both from the sky and the lanterns. I ran to the suspended cord and found to my dismay, that it hung lifeless from the boat. Our sister ship had disappeared into the sea, all that was left of her were a few floating planks.
With a great heave and inrush of air the ship rose, not two, three, or four, but a hundred times higher than any wave ever before. The boat turned on its side and seemed to hover in the air, just for a moment. I could hear the water from the wave falling back to the ocean as I began to feel gravity's pull once more. As I fell out of the ship I noticed the great lights now almost completely engulfed the ocean floor below.
* * *
From the moment I hit the ocean my mind is a blank and I remember nothing after, save that I awoke on the shore during daylight, surrounded by unknown and strange faces, which were filled with concern. That is when I was brought here to this place, where I have spent my days wondering what lay in the sea that terrible night.
A dream they call it, a fantastic dream.
Copyright Eric Stryker 1988, 1997, 2001