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The steps at silloth, p.2
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       The Steps At Silloth, p.2

           Michael Carter
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every one of the vehicles still had the ignition key in place, and in several cars the engines were still purring.

  I say this was an enigma, but again it is my fear of disclosure of the facts which holds back the truth. To any other, these abandoned cars would indeed have caused much curiosity but personally, I knew full well why they were there.

  For that second vision which I had viewed in my sleep was this; It had been speeded up, of that I am certain, and I would estimate that in perhaps ten minutes of somnolency I had – experienced?? – several hours of real time. At first, in my vision, the car-park – this car park, or one very much like it – was empty, completely devoid of inhabitants and there was only the glinting of the moonlight on the night-dew that had fallen on the tarmac that could be seen. I could still hear, smell and sense those things from the sea, and although they didn’t appear in this second vision until later, I was certain that they were in the vicinity, still standing on the steps out of my range, glubbing and hissing grotesquely in the dark. For a while the car-park remained desolate, and my sleeping self wondered of the meaning of a deserted car-park dream, but within minutes the first car arrived, barely pulling to a halt before the female driver jumped from the car and began running towards the steps. My dream did not follow the womans progress, but remained where it was, and over the next couple of minutes I witnessed the arrival of more cars and vans, even a motorbike, and the hurried frenzy with which their occupants egressed and ran towards the sea. At one point a small trickling stream of perhaps ten people arrived within seconds of each other and when they all ran together, this time my dream followed their flight.

  And, Great Gods – but which Gods!!--- what I saw! The climax of that dreadful vision, the denouement that snapped me awake screaming and impelled me to drive to Silloth and confirm that my mind wasn’t simply in the thrall of an insane fever; for, as the men and women exited the car park my dream followed them, seemingly from above, and I had a much too perfect view of them as they ran across the tarmac and galloped towards the steps that bordered the inlet. And, my God, as they ran, as they sensed the proximity of their real long-forgotten subaqueous kin and caught the rustic smell, and saw the webbed and scaled appearance of the sea creatures waiting glubbingly on the steps, the men and women themselves began to change in a hideous parody of natural evolution. I saw their hands extend and their fingers gel together, while that hideous webbing grew up between the digits. I saw their skin ruffle and twist, becoming coarse and hardened and all the time darkening to that terrifying green tint. I watched as they mingled with their own kind and as they peeled off their clothes, revealing naked torsos of amphibian nuance, each transformed body bearing fully-formed gill in their sides.

  And as they mingled and rejoiced I knew instantly what my dream had meant, and how, now that I had driven to Silloth and found the evidence of the parked cars, what the truth really was. Those abandoned cars proved to me without doubt that the – dare I say it – the Deep Ones, allied to Great Cthulhu, were stirring once more on the Cumbrian coastline. Written of and hinted at in ancient and terrible esoteric texts, we are told of this ceremony which occurs only once every twenty-seven years, the ritual of calling out in dream across the land; calling out to those supposed humans which had in their blood the genealogy of that watery race; they were recruiting the latest batch, those that had been spawned through some perverse breeding with things from the sea and up until that night had lived their lives completely oblivious to their true nature; they were reclaiming their new generation.

  The empty vehicles were enough to confirm that what I had dreamt, or should I say, what my mind had received, was indeed what had happened here. Nonetheless, I walked over to the tarmac and the grass-verge as I had seen the others do and then stared down at the steps which had harboured the fish-things. I did not expect to find them still there, indeed my senses would have warned me on first approaching, and I was not proved wrong. They had, however, and rather carelessly, I thought, left evidence of their being there; residue, tangled seaweed and slimy plankton, shells, conches, and a tough sticky grue.

  I walked along the bottom step for a while, not being able to see too far ahead in the crepuscular light. Once or twice I nearly slipped on something slimy or tripped over an abandoned conch. A couple of hundred feet from where I’d started walking I found another thing, one that flooded back memories of the third and final dream-phase, and which, as the other discoveries had done, confirmed the vision as fact. This last piece of evidence that I found on the bottom step at Silloth was a dead man, naked, and the dream-vision which it recalled was this;

  I saw the man that I later found dead, only here, in my dream, he was very much alive. He had parked his car on the tarmac and had clambered out excitedly. I had watched him as he ran with the others, removing his clothes as he went, and I distinctly remembered how his expectant smile had wavered as he noticed that everyone else who was running for the sea was changing, and yet he was not. You could see it in his face, the disappointment, the self-pity and the anger that he wasn’t changing like the others. The last scene I was shown was that of the man hopping down the steps and mingling with his disconnected kin anyway, gesticulating wildly at his unchanging form, clinging, embracing and stroking the amphibious creatures and rubbing their excrescences on himself in vain hope. He was a bright, immediately obvious patch of white in a seething sea of green.

  I knew what had happened to the man, and why he had not changed like the others, because it had happened to me too. In my youth I was involved in a truly horrendous automobile accident and I was extremely lucky to survive. I was in the most critical of conditions when they stretchered me into the hospital, but gradually, through the miracle of modern medical practices, the doctors and the nurses got me through it. I was in hospital for five months, and in the Intensive Therapy Unit for much of that time. Over the period of the accident and while I was being operated upon I lost the majority of my own blood, and would certainly not have survived had I not been given continual transfusions which other anonymous people had been so willing to donate. This incident, I am sure, diluted the influence of the Deep Ones within me, so that now, when the time of the calling arrived, I was able to pick up the signals hidden in my dreams but I did not have sufficient subaqueous enzymes and metabolisms to actually instigate a physical change – and for that I am thankful.

  I can only assume that some terrible accident or illness befell the dead man, too, except that his loss of bodily fluid and enzymes was not as extreme as my own, thus, when triggered, the desire to change was still within him, even though the ability to do so was not.

  I took it upon myself to dispose of the man’s corpse, for his fully-human nakedness repelled me and would have done the same to any oblivious visitor who might discover the carcass in the morning. How he had actually died, I could not tell, but there were no marks of aggravation upon his body; perhaps he had suffocated in the throng, perhaps he had died of fright and terror at the things he saw, or perhaps of self-pity because he could not join them – knowing that no matter how grotesquely unnatural and oceanic they looked, they were his real true family, his original kith and kin.

  I pushed his body into the water – the tide was high and splashed over the bottom step - and watched it glide under the waves where the strong outgoing current would take it out into the Atlantic and it would be lost forever; at least, at last, he would be near his own kind until the more natural denizens of the sea destroyed and broke down his corpse. There was little I could do about the dozens of parked cars, and it would no doubt confuse and excite the authorities when they discovered that each of the owners was missing, and perhaps come to the conclusion that a mass suicide had been performed during the deeps of the night.

  On that score they would be approaching the truth, but because I disposed of the dead man and did my best to clear the steps of the most conspicuous of the creatures’ debris, the police would never learn what actually took place. And yet if the contents of th
e police reports were ever co-ordinated and studied in a certain way, would the police still not register these mass disappearances in quiet coastal places at different times of the year, a few hundred miles apart, up and down the coastline of the country, of the world.

  A final point; why did I clear the steps of unnatural debris and dispose of the mess that remained? Well, the existence of the Deep Ones is something that is not meant to be acknowledged by the human land-dwelling world, and it would be hideous and frightening if one could even guess at it. But there was a second reason, too; I would not want these strange bizarre creatures to be discovered, for certainly I was for the most part disconnected from their ranks and felt quite repelled by their grotesque appearance, yet no matter how hard I try and deny it to myself, that hideous submarine race was still my original flesh and blood.

  --fin --

  I’m pleased to get some traditional Lovecraftian adjectives in the text; “crepuscular” and “batrachian” are two of my favourites. Go on, look them up, I had to...

  Thanks for reading, and why not leave some feedback in the reviews section.


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