Ever since I saw this delightful salt cellar made by Missie, which was once on sale in her Etsy shop, I have had but one thought: this is the kind of thing Deep Ones would bring with them on a picnic. So, when Missie submitted this as part of the 1,000 Word Challenge, I decided I would need to tell this 1,060 word story.
The sea undulated; its waves flowing like a thousand serpents under a bedsheet. The cold, indifferent Atlantic slapped against the stony shore. Water dripped off of me as I clambered amongst the rocks. My body was not used to the land anymore; I’d been living in the sea for nearly twenty years, emerging only to see Catherine. I could see her high above, looking out over the sea. She was waiting for me. My blessing divided us, but it could not destroy our love. Her hand rose above her head as she waved enthusiastically. I croaked an excited hello; walking closer, I saw that her hand had started to develop webs between her fingers.
“Your change has started.” I said, “I’m happy. Soon, you will be able to return to the sea with me.” Her smile vanished as I spoke, her enthusiasm fading like driftwood in the sun. She sat on the blanket she brought with her and began unpacking a small picnic.
“I’m afraid. I don’t know if I’m ready yet. I thought I wouldn’t be afraid when the time came; I thought that when the time was right, I would feel at ease. Yet, I don’t feel ready. When you left the land, you were as placid as a pond. Now that my time is coming, my soul churns like the ocean.”
“You cannot let your doubt dissuade you from your course. I had my doubts, but they washed away as I walked into the waves. The place for our kind is with our father and mother beneath the waves; the land holds no happiness for me, except for you. Now that you will soon return with me, I will never need to return.” I tried to comfort her, but I could see that I was failing. Instead of talking, I reached for a tuna sandwich and began licking the meat off of the bread.
“I’m afraid I’ll miss my family. I have so many friends now, and they are all so dear to me. I don’t know if I’m ready to surrender it all to the whims of fate.” I listened to her voice, which had started to deepen. Her eyes had also started to widen; I did not notice how much of the change she had undergone. She was becoming more beautiful in my eyes. I watched her as she delicately ate a piece of cheese with a salty rind. She smiled at me when she noticed my staring.
“We’ve been together too long for you to look at me so longingly.” she said.
“Yet, you are more beautiful than ever.” I said, trying to smile. We sat together quietly, enjoying the sound of the rolling waves. After a while, I noticed that the warm sun was starting to dry out my skin. “I need to go back to the water, dear. Would you like to swim?”
“I cannot; I need to go back to town. I will see you again next week?”
“As always,” I responded quietly, feeling crestfallen. I watched her walk away towards Innsmouth, the town I once called home. I called after her, but she didn’t hear me, so I followed her a short distance. She entered a car on the passenger side, and when I saw it was a young man driving, jealousy flooded through my veins. My squat legs carried me back into the ocean. The waves lapped over my webbed feet as I glanced back at the land. With a leap, I plunged into the water and swam under the waves. I swam deep into the darkness, where the light of the sun could barely be seen. The others of my kind congregated, swarming around our mother called Hydra. Her many eyes watched her children, grandchildren, and a dozen generations of our kind. The one-hundred youngest amongst us suckled on her many breasts, taking the sustenance they would need to grow strong.
“Mother!” I cried out, and one of her eyes fell upon me.
“Yes, young one?“ Her voice poured into my head, filling me with warmth.
“She turned against me, Mother! I saw her with a man. She left me to be with him. She refused to join us below the waves.”
“What would you have me do?”
“Crush them! Destroy them! Raise up the ocean and wipe them from the land.” Anger consumed me as I spoke irrationally. Hydra moved her immense body and the waters swirled violently. Her hand reached out, and I floated above her palm. With her attention focused on me, my brethren grew envious.
“I will not do this. If you would have revenge, you must take it yourself. Go to the land, find your revenge, but return to me safely.” Her words calmed me and stayed with me as I delved into the depths to find my harpoon.
By nightfall, I returned to the land and made my way to Innsmouth. The town was busy, its winding streets infested with tourists, and looked like clogged arteries ready to burst. I stayed in the shadows as I shambled through the back alleys. I saw Catherine’s home, the home I had paid for years earlier, and in front of it sat the car. A silver BMW. I crossed the street and peeked through the front window. The young man was sitting on the sofa Catherine and I bought nearly thirty years ago at a small antique shop in Arkham. He looked comfortable and content.
Catherine walked into the room, seeming like she was floating on the air. When her eyes caught a glimpse of me, she nearly screamed. The fear in her eyes confirmed my suspicions. I clenched the harpoon in my hands, feeling the cold, wet, unyielding steel. Rusty, but still sharp. I could see myself plunging the harpoon into that man who looked so human and weak. Yet, I refrained. She would undergo the change eventually, and then she would be mine.
Standing across the street, I hurled my rusty harpoon at the car. It landed true, piercing the front tire and burying its tip deep in the wheel well. The man rushed to the door, and I allowed him a glance of my form in the shadows. His face contorted with fear, he rushed back into the house. Content, I walked through the alleys, making my way back to my home.