Three Days Ago
The serene gaze of a dozen porcelain cats sitting on a shelf greeted Helen every night when she came home. Her ritual was always the same: she’d engage each of the four locks on her door, drop her keys on the sideboard, then check to make sure that all the windows were locked and unbroken. She read the papers, and she knew what happened to women that lived alone and didn’t lock-up their houses tightly. Besides, they might find her.
She took a Svelte and Savoury frozen meal out of the freezer, taking a moment to decide if she wanted chicken or beef. She liked to cook, but cooking for herself and sitting at the kitchen table to eat seemed sad and pathetic to her. She ripped open the box and peeled back the film while humming Love Me Tender.
When she was very young, Helen’s mother told her that she was born for greatness, but she wasn’t quite sure how it would come. She wasn’t particularly talented in any way, nor was she that pretty, When she was a teenager and upset that fame hadn’t come knocking, Helen reached the conclusion that she had been born too late. She was an old soul, unfit for the present. If she had been born thirty years earlier, she’d have probably married Elvis Presley. At least, that’s what she told herself.
The microwave dinged and she took the steaming tray into the living room. She placed it on her coffee table to let it cool while she changed into her pajamas. There was nothing she liked better than pajamas. They were so much more comfortable than regular clothes. She didn’t have to wear a bra with her pajamas, and taking her bra off was one of the high points of her day. Exploring the red lines her bra left led her to suspect that the Svelte and Savoury meals weren’t working as well as the ads said they would.
She sat down on her couch and flipped on the TV. She used her DVR to record The Price is Right because she loved it so much. It always made her happy to see the smiling faces of the contestants as the ran down the aisle in hopes of winning big. At the start of the show, anyone could be a winner. The excitement was palpable, sending positive energy flowing from the TV. She always wanted to go to Los Angeles and see a taping, hoping that appearing on the show would give her the chance at greatness she longed for.
A knock at the door interrupted a roar of excitement from the speakers as Drew Carrey made a grand gesture and George Gray announced that the lucky contestant was going to play Plinko. Helen frustrated paused the DVR as the rapping continued, interspersed with door bells rings. She peered out from behind a curtain to see that three strange men were at the door. She grabbed at her chest and sucked in a breath to keep herself from screaming.
She sunk to the floor and crawled towards the phone. The knocking grew more violent as she fumbled for the phone’s handset. She pressed the digits for 911 and heard the operator pick up.
“Fire, police, or rescue?” asked the operator in a monotone voice.
“There’s three people at my door. They look dangerous. They’re knocking hard. Please, send the police, quick!”
“Are they in your home?” asked the dispatcher, calmly.
Helen heard a window break in the kitchen, and saw a rock fly through her living room window.
“They’re coming! Get here quick!” Helen yelled into the phone and rushed to stairwell so she could take refuge in her bed room. She knew she could lock herself in and buy more time. She was astonished when she ran into something hard at the top of the stairs. She reeled backwards, grabbing the banister so she wouldn’t tumble down the stairs. She saw a giant man before her with terrible, saucer-like eyes that stared at her with animalistic menace.
“We’ve come for you Helen. It’s time.” croaked the man.
“No!” shouted Helen. She knew she was born for great things, but this was not what she wanted. She wondered if they would ever come for her, and the presence of a Deep One in her home was her answer.
“The police will be here soon.” protested Helen.
“And we’ll be gone, child. You are the chosen vessel for our mother’s return. Rejoice! Be glad! In just a couple of days, you will become a god, and rule over the earth and seas. But first, you must come with us.”
“I left the Order! I’ve renounced Dagon. Jesus is my Saviour now!” Helen reached for the crucifix around her neck.
“And you were baptized in water. You belong to Dagon, and you are key to his return. Don’t force our hands.”
Helen looked down the stairs and saw shadows coming closer. She was trapped. She dropped the handset and it tumbled down the stairs. She could hear the dispatcher yelling out for her. Help was on the way, but Helen knew the Deep One was right. It would be too late.
Three days gave Helen a lot of time to think about her life. She grew-up in Innsmouth and was a proud member of The Esoteric Order of Dagon. Her parents had both been zealous adherents to the Order, but they were never treated very well by the other members of the Order. Once, she asked her mother why they always sat at the back of the church at meetings, and her mother explained.
“There are those who serve Father Dagon and Mother Hydra, and there are those who are blessed children of the gods. Your father and I are only servants, but you may be different. You may have been touched by the gods. You will elevate our family. Soon, we will be like the other blessed children, no longer servants.”
As a teenager, Helen learned exactly what her mother meant. Most members of the Church were Deep Ones or were related to them. Her family didn’t have one drop of Deep One blood in them. That is, until her mother slept with a Deep One and conceived Helen. Enraged and confused, Helen ran away from Innsmouth at 16. She hitchhiked to Dunwich and found a cult recovery support group run by Father Hildebrandt, a Catholic priest that dedicated his life to assisting cult survivors. The priest gave her a place to live and helped her emancipate her from her parents.
Helen regretted getting back in contact with her parents after she graduated from college. She had hoped that Father Hildebrandt’s group could help her parents, but they refused. She concluded that it was that altruistic act that ultimately brought her into the middle of nowhere, tied to a stake, and awaiting unknown horrors.
In the center of a ring of cars, she saw the shambling shapes of Deep Ones dragging a man into the circle. He looked sweaty and badly bruised. He probably tried to fight back. That’s why I went quietly.
“Everybody’s in!” shouted a Deep One. Helen could barely recognize him; it was Evan, the Deep One that headed the Esoteric Order of Dagon.
“Everybody is in! Our ceremony can now begin!” he shouted so loudly that his raspy, croaking voice echoed through the woods. “On this night, we begin again. In 1937, the government thought they could destroy us. They sent the National Guard to break us. They killed Father Dagon! They killed Mother Hydra! But that is not dead which can eternal lie! Tonight, brothers and sisters, our great Mother and our great Father return. Let mankind tremble, for after this night, our hiding is over and the war will begin.”