Ah, winter, that sullen season; dark, dank, and depressing. But February offers a glimmer of hope with that bright jewel called Valentine’s Day. The mirth of spring finds foothold in the cold snow and winter loosens its grip on our spirits with the promise of love.
And you’ll find no more mention of it in my corner of this journal. Instead, I want to offer something a little darker, a life line to others of a more Lovecraftian frame of mind.
And why? Why would I taint the sparkly and wonderful writing that has come before in all the posts of this journal? Simple. This is how I make magic. I am a story teller. And this is my strange little tale to balance against the glow of Love’s holiday. After all, what is light without dark?
No. 2: The Elsewhere
The sound of water lapping at the shore stirred Françios from his sleep. He couldn’t recall the last time he had listened to the waves on the beach; but then he remembered that he hadn’t been on the beach in years. The memories of the summer days in Calais throbbed briefly in his mind and then began to fade as the lapping grew faint. The sound diminished until it was nothing more than what one might hear in a garden pond.
He slowly became aware of a growing cold, the kind of chill that hurts down inside the bones. He tried to move his arms, to shield himself from the gelid air, only to find that he was unable. Panic bubbled up inside his chest. He willed his limbs to move, silently begged them. His body was leaden and unresponsive. The panic and the cold began to mix deep down inside him.
Then he heard the last thing he ever expected; someone, or something, was laughing. However, it was not so much laughing at him, but rather for him. The laugh was almost childish, almost innocent.
“He is confused.” The small voice behind the laughter trickled down the air around him. “He doesn’t remember.”
All the while, he lay there, truly and indeed confused. For the first time since his waking up, he looked at his surroundings. He was in something like a great gray cavern, vast and utterly empty save for him and the haunting voice.
“He will remember.” This was a new voice; it was old, strong, and…matronly? This was a female voice, but not like any woman’s voice he had ever heard before. There was power behind that voice, and even though the panic threatened to tear him apart, he listened willingly to that voice.
“He a strange one, ‘dis pale man.” The powerful voice spoke and it seemed a thousand other voices whispered behind it. “We never had a one like him, foreign to our water and to our ways, yet unhesitatin’ to defend us from his own kind. We will keep him.”
The sound of lapping water returned and grew until he was sure he would be swallowed by the enormous wave that lurked just outside his field of vision. The roar of the tide nearly deafened him, or perhaps he was hearing his own heart beating desperately for escape. Just before the noise and the fear consumed him, he heard the laughing voice and the old woman sing together.
“Don’t be afraid, shè. You just returnin’ top side.”
It was always the same dream. Whenever François bothered to sleep, that dream always came to his thoughts to remind him why he was still here in this detestable swamp. François was about to break open another bottle of cheap wine when he heard the unmistakable sound of a large body scraping against the bank and dragging itself closer. He had to smile, despite himself. He walked onto his decaying porch and let out a soft, lilting chuckle. For a moment, he wondered what poor soul had stumbled into his swamp before meeting a sticky end.
“It’s just you and me, Marguerite, ma chère. Just you and François Boudreaux, and this whole swamp is ours.”