TO START THE CYCLE :
It’s only a siren’s song baby
Hey there Mr. Cthulhu
Got some toxic truth?
Squid Kings and Greek Fires
THE DORLEY CYCLE
I caught the clingy smell of burnt and received the touch of a shiver, running from him to me. The light left my peripheral vision and fell to the stone floor with a clink!, rocking back and forth creating a shadow twin of the creature and imprinting it twice the size.
I was frozen on my own, not heavy enough to swing back, not fast enough to run. But then he spoke.
“What the hell is that?”
Eli gave the question to the whole of the cave, walking around me, like I wasn’t really there in that moment. His voice was croaky, like he’d drunk too much of the sea, and it was still sour inside his nose and down his throat. I knew how that felt, how it made you bitter and angry, but I also knew how after a while when it had lingered enough it made your spits greenish and the taste on your lips, the one your harsh tongue scrapes, the only one you’ve ever had. You were what you were.
He almost reached like me inside the break of light to touch the creature, but withdrew his hand in the instant.
“Is it alive?”
I almost reached for his shoulder to comfort him, or hell to just grab and hold onto.
“Is it alive, Jackson?”
“In a way.”
We both turned, me kicking the flashlight Eli had put down, till it stopped at the feet of Guy.
Guy picked up the light and steadily pointed it at the colossal squid, gliding it up and down its body.
His striped vest was gone and his face was dirty and bruised where the explosion had caught it. He aimed the light at Eli.
“When I came out of sleep inside that blue hole and came here, the first real contact I made with Guy was in this very cave. I brought him of all with me, this kid with a monstrous sparkle in his eye and emptied him entirely, admiring now I remember, everything about his being. Funny, I had seen your kind before, but they stared from afar with fascination I think, and gave me names. This was different, more thrilling. I induced him for days before putting a part of me inside, my soul, my brain, my own being, removing all that was Guy, because hiding in this cave with this boy who came and went made me realize the need of exploration, of knowledge.”
He swiveled the light from Eli to me.
“Then after sometime I wanted to go back to the sea, but found I couldn’t. My body had decayed, left neglected and lifeless. I wanted to somehow return to my birth form and tried desperately at first, but then in time it seemed pointless. Why would I return to empty seas when there’s much more on land? When I can adapt and survive and have much, much more? I can live, unlike those of my kind that died with the warring tribes of mermaids and sirens. What if I stayed like this and made it possible to co-exist, to find a way to sustain myself inside this new host, like a parasite that inflames its entire system; to grown me back out of him? Then one day perhaps many more would carry a piece of me and of the sea; in a way I would re-create what I lost. A legacy, you know? And perhaps one day the seas will rise up and cover the cities like in the time before. Then who do you suppose would survive, Jackson? Surely, I won’t be alone.”
Guy moved the flashlight under his chin and grinned his perfect white smile, like he had just told a scary story.
“Why are you telling me this?”
“Isn’t this what you wanted to know, secretly? How things are the way they are? I bet you asked yourself the same question since the day you bashed that pretty little mermaids head with a rock. You wasted a whole town selfishly.”
I guess in a way it was my scary story too, always has been.
“Hear now how our beloved Dorley burns, how it sizzles in the flames your hatred inspired. Listen.”
But what I heard where thunders, growing waves flooding the upper parts of the cave in their attempts to consume us all and send us where we belonged.
“There’s a storm coming, Guy. And you’re all alone. Dorley has burned down. Everyone is dead. Time to go back at the bottom of the sea.”
I waited for Guy to wipe the tears I could see in his eyes; I waited to hear the cry he suppressed biting his lip; I waited for him to fall to his knees and beg. Instead his pupils widened and he showed me, showed us how the light can be scarier than the dark.
“Mr. Jackson, I am never alone.”
Behind him one by one appeared trembling circles of light that expanded to full shapes held tight in a yellow beam. I could half-see their faces, but their numbers where enough for me to recognize the group of people I had followed down the beach.
“I will have my legacy.”
And he did, proving me wrong at my brief success. The cave danced with half-lights and shadows as the town’s people stripped their bodies from their clothes and clawed at Guy to have him naked among them. His limbs bulged at his throat and inside his belly, protesting against the constraints of his disfigured body. He opened his mouth and released thick and black tentacles. The corners of his smile dripped with blood at the stretch where the dried skin pulled with struggle. Those whiplashed upon his followers, who reached for it and he planted hungry suckers across their breasts and held it tight around their gaunt bodies until impatient they too moaned and screamed and hurt, pulling out their inner monster to appear perhaps for the first time. Dozens of wriggling limbs bit with suction cups into his skin and drew blood, and Guy gathered close to him the bodies, like he wanted to be consumed by them, to be fused with them into one being. But they tore at him, puncturing wholes with sharp ends inside him, making way for something greater to be created, to exist, allowing space for it to grow. A fucking squid king. My fucking nightmare. Instead of three hearts it beat with fifty.
Eli dug his fingers in my arm and pulled at me.
“Jackson we have to get out of here!”
I shook my head, gesturing towards the wall of limbs and tentacles and beyond it the only way in or out of this cave, now bashed by angry waves.
He screamed in my ear and pointed where the arc lamps were brightest. The wall was a kaleidoscope of bluish-green, mimicking vibrations from bellow. A reflection.
We both ran, and I felt at my slowest, tripping in the dark, but Eli had me by the hand and led me to what was a deep pool.
I held my breath and jumped, the heart clenching water brushing past my ears as I swam after Eli down the freezing cold tunnel. But the cave still close above rattled, a new weight moving through it; a weight that splashed inside the pool, creating torpedoes underwater.