Nightscapes





Innsmouth Harvest by R.S. Cartwright



III

A fish smell. Heavy. Dank and musty. A shadow moved in the semi-darkness, taking form as it slowly moved across the room. It shuffled, an awkward gait. Rocking side to side. Jerry shifted in the chair. The form hissed with a raspy breath. Jerry watched, remaining still, hoping the form would not notice him. Jerry followed the shuffling form with his eyes.

The form crossed in front of the window looking out over New Town Square. The feeble light shown through the curtains, outlining the form in silhouette. What kinda thing is that!? It was tall, wearing what appeared to be a long coat. On its head was a wide-brimmed hat much like a hat worn by the Amish, only the brim of this hat was much wider and floppish. Jerry could see that the thing was slightly round shouldered and hunchbacked. Its head seemed malformed. Yet, in the darkened shadows, Jerry could not be sure of specific details.

Shit! Jerry's mind whispered silently as the thing turned toward where he sat in the chair. Jerry half closed his eyes as the thing shuffled slowly toward him. Jerry caught his breath, squinting his eyes, hoping the thing would pass him by on its way toward the door. As it approached, Jerry noted the rancid smell of dead fish was overwhelming, noxious, stifling. Jerry choked back his breath, holding it as best he could.

And suddenly the thing was there in front of him. Go you son-of-a-bitch! Keep right on goin'! It stopped. Jerry froze. His squinted eyes locked on the thing as he fought back nausea from the rancid smell of decaying fish. The thing turned toward Jerry, slowly leaning forward, bending at the waist, looking Jerry squarely in the face. Jerry remained motionless like a statue as the thing's face inched closer to his own.

As it leered close, Jerry saw its face in the shadows, saw its gray-green skin -- blotchy, seeming to be layered like scales. Its eyes exhibited a soft phosphorescence of yellow. Its ears, laid back, were splayed and ridged like fins, and on both sides of its neck it sported three parallel rows of gills. Fish people. Fuckin' fish people! A big one!

It slowly raised its right hand, its fingers webbed, and pointed at Jerry. "She's mine," it hissed, its fetid fish breath washing over Jerry's face.

"No!" Jerry exploded up out of the chair, up through ... air. He stumbled forward, expecting to bowl over the fish thing. It wasn't there. He caught and steadied himself, shook his head, wiped the sleep from his eyes. He sighed, relieved. "A goddam dream. Just a goddam dream."

Jerry slowly turned where he stood, peering about the shadowed room. Everything was silent. He was alone. He caught himself breathing heavy, his eyes wide with fear. The dream had been so real, so vivid. He could have sworn ... Whew! That damned fish smell. Gotta be in the air from the waterfront. He shrugged the thought off, walked to the window, and pulled the edge of the curtain aside to look out.

The torches still flickered on the waterfront, some seemingly in boats to and from Devil Reef, others in the dark far out on Devil Reef itself. Jerry's thoughts wandered, the idea of night fishing seeming less tangible. He was beginning to believe Brian's wild story of fish people, and that something was going on here in Innsmouth, something terrible, something that had frightened Brian.

The dream began to haunt Jerry. The fish thing, one of Brian's fish people, dressed in long coat and wide brimmed floppy hat -- so much like the things he had seen earlier appearing from the dark to join the groups of women who were walking toward the water front. Earlier. The Hall of Dagon.

"Carolyn," Jerry whispered, the thought striking home suddenly.

Jerry turned quickly from the window. He hurried through the shadows to the door leading to the bedroom. Damn, it's been hours ... The door was ajar. He pushed the door open slowly, softly, peering in. A form lay in his bed, laid on its side. Jerry softly crept into the bedroom and made his way to the side of the bed. He glanced down. Carolyn. She's home. Fast asleep.

A soft muffled sound interrupted his thoughts. He turned, trying to focus on the source of the noise. It came from across the hall. Brian's place. Jerry glanced at Carolyn again, then turned toward the bedroom door and stopped dead in his tracks. Something had squished beneath his feet, a dampness that had soaked into the rug. He glanced down, saw the darkened spot in the light-colored carpet. It was a large spot, like a large webbed footprint. In front of the spot was another, then another. A series of them lead out of the bedroom. And Jerry's heart leapt to his throat.

Jerry trailed the trail of prints out of the bedroom, following them across the floor and turning past the chair where he had fallen asleep. At the chair the prints turned, faced the chair, then turned away again, heading toward the door of the apartment which opened on the hallway. It was a dream. A goddam dream! I know it was!

Jerry paused, glancing through the shadows at the door that lead into the hall. Slowly he approached the door, reached for it, saw something dangling from the doorknob. He grasped the doorknob, felt the wetness, the slimy seaweed dangling there. He began to turn the doorknob, but let go instead as another muffled sound echoed from Brian's apartment across the hall. The muffled sound was followed by a crash, a muffled cry, then silence. And Jerry waited.

A door creaked open slowly, the door to Brian and Vicki's apartment. Jerry leaned against the door of his apartment and listened. There was a whispering of voices, hissing voices and a woman's voice -- too soft for Jerry to discern words. Jerry listened as the whispering voices and shuffling sounds of movement faded down the hall. Then he opened the door -- slightly ajar, and peered into the dim hallway. There was no one there.

Jerry slowly opened the door the rest of the way and stepped cautiously into the hall. The hall was empty, silent, dim; whoever had made the noise and had been whispering were now gone. He glanced at the door to Brian and Vicki's apartment. It stood slightly ajar, darkness lying beyond. The hallway air was permeated with the rancid smell of fish. Jerry glanced at his feet, noted the trailing of damped prints, the same prints he had seen in his own apartment. His eyes followed the trail of prints leading from the door of Brian and Vicki's apartment to the staircase which descended to the first floor lobby.

The lobby.

An unexplained thought flashed through Jerry's mind. His memory scanned the view of New Town Square from his apartment window. He turned, hurried back into his apartment, leaving the door open wide. Jerry crossed the room to the window overlooking New Town Square, pulled the curtain slightly to the side, and peeked through the narrow opening. His eyes immediately locked on the small group crossing the dimly lit square toward Bank Street. They were headed for the waterfront.

There were four, three of them dressed in the long coats and wide brimmed hats like the figures he had seen earlier on River Street, like the fish thing he had seen in his dream. Gotta be, just gotta be those fish people. Two of them were carrying a bundle wrapped in what appeared to be a throw rug. The forth was a woman, and in the feeble glow of the street lights, Jerry could have sworn the woman was Vicki Abrams.

Jerry backed away from the window, his mind embroiled in thought. His thoughts were crashing home, hard reality. All along he had suspected that something about this seaside town wasn't quite right. He just couldn't put a finger on it. True, he never suspected anything supernatural or something beyond convention. But fish people? That was something he hadn't bargained for.

Still, signs of something extraordinary were there, had been there for a long time. There were the strange people of the town, the decayed condition of the town, the absence of an "older generation," the influx of young couples, and the seeming lack of young men coupled with the preponderance of young woman. And there was the fish smell, and the dampness -- both having appeared in his own apartment for a number of weeks now. Sure as Hell ain't the goddam fish from the fish market!

Jerry glanced through the shadows to the opened door of his apartment. He slowly crossed the room to the door, stood in the shadows and glanced around the corner into the dimly lit hallway. His eyes fell on the door to the Abrams' apartment, the door still ajar, still dark within. Curiosity and fear of the truth took hold of Jerry. He had to know.

Cautious steps took Jerry across the hall. He rested a splayed hand on the door of the Abrams apartment, paused, then slowly pushed it open. He stepped into the apartment, then stopped, letting his eyes acclimatize to the dim and shadowed room. There was silence there, a silence that bespoke eternity. And as his eyes adjusted to the dark, Jerry noted the apartment in disarray. Something happened here. Somebody put up some sort of fight.

Jerry stepped further into the apartment, tweaking his nose against the rancid fish smell, the same fish smell he had noted in his own apartment. His eyes scanned the disarray -- overturned lamps, sofa cushions disheveled with one cushion lying on the floor, pictures hanging crooked on the walls, and several of Brian's own portraits and their easels toppled over.

On the floor were heavy spots of dampness, the same apparent prints Jerry had noted in his apartment and in the hallway. Jerry followed the prints to a back room, the bedroom. He stared at the bed, the bed covers disheveled and damp, the fish smell prevalent. The general condition of the bedroom was like the outer room, lamps overturned, crooked pictures, and two of Brian's portraits vandalized.

Turning to leave the bedroom, Jerry noted a portrait on an easel in the corner of the room. It still stood, untouched, covered by a white sheet. Wonder what that one is? Jerry rounded the foot of the bed and walked slowly to the covered portrait. He stopped, paused, uncertain as to whether or not he should leave it alone and covered. Covered for a reason; maybe doesn't want anyone to see it; maybe not finished. He shrugged the thought off and pulled the sheet away. And gasped.

The portrait background was dark and gloomy. A head and shoulders painting of Vicki Abrams appeared on the left side of the portrait, Vicki being bare shouldered. Lurking behind her on the right was the head of one of the fish people, its yellow eyes leering. Just like my fuckin' dream! Jerry could have sworn the thing was smiling. And resting on Vicki's left shoulder was the long bony-fingered hand of the fish thing.

The portrait and its implications nauseated Jerry. His mind danced with images spawned by what he felt the portrait was intended to represent, a representation he now felt certain was grounded in horrid reality, a horrid reality Jerry was now certain that Brian had known and feared. Still, it wasn't the portrait itself that had the greatest impact on Jerry, but rather the small white paper tag attached to the top left corner of the portrait. Jerry glanced wide-eyed at the small paper tag. There were two words on the tag, and it read: Innsmouth Harvest.


IV

Eyes were everywhere, imaginary and real, boring into Jerry's consciousness, heart, and soul. He walked slowly as he crossed the lobby of Gilman House. His eyes darted hesitantly from side to side, catching glimpses of the few and small pockets of people gathered in the lobby. And those gathered, those young people seemingly on the verge of advancing deformity, were staring back.

Their stares made Jerry feel uncomfortable. The decaying town made Jerry feel uncomfortable. This morning his outlook had changed. The curiosity concerning the strangeness of Innsmouth which Jerry had previously felt had given over to an underlying fear of something dreadfully wrong, something dark and malicious. And deep in the recesses of his mind he heard a voice telling him to get out while he still could.

"May I help you with something?" came the voice of the desk clerk as Jerry stepped up to the desk.

His eyes trained on a small gathering near the door, the sudden voice of the desk clerk had startled Jerry. He darted his eyes and head toward the source of the voice. "Ah, yes ... yes," Jerry spoke softly, haltingly. "I have a friend, Brian Abrams in room 207. There's a padlock on "

"Ah, the Abrams couple," the desk clerk interrupted, Jerry noting a sly and shifty grin crawling across his face. "Yes, they moved early this morning. I believe they have left Innsmouth. Aylesbury, I think Mister Abrams said."

"Aylesbury?" Jerry questioned, almost a whisper.

The desk clerk nodded slowly, the grin widening. Without a word Jerry slowly backed away from the desk and turned toward the lobby entrance. He glanced back at the desk clerk, noting the clerk watching him, a light in the clerk's eyes as though he were keeping a secret. You're lyin', and you and I both know it!

Jerry tore his eyes from the clerk as he neared the lobby entrance. He stopped and waited as the small gathering of people shuffled out of his way. The look on their faces unnerved Jerry. He felt a building tension in the air, a fear in his heart. The atmosphere was stuffy, dreamlike. The small gathering at the door stared at him as they gave him room, their gazes cold and dark. Jerry burst through the entrance into the shadows cast by the morning sun cutting across New Town Square.

A pause for a deep breath, and Jerry's senses slowly began to return. The stuffiness of the lobby was gone. The sound of the cascading falls of the nearby Manuxet River washed across the Square. The Square was deserted, only a few people crossing the Federal Street Bridge to the north side of the river. Jerry glanced toward the bridge, noted that those crossing were mostly young women, and they were turning toward the north side waterfront. Like last night. The bad part of town. Hell, what part isn't the bad part of town.

Jerry shrugged, and began to follow them. What he was looking for and what he expected to find hadn't crossed his mind.

* * *

Jerry skirted River Street on his way to Water Street and the waterfront. He hadn't made sense of why all the young women would go there, congregate there. He had never given it any thought before. In his mind were puzzle pieces, a puzzle he now was trying desperately to piece together. There was the gathering of women at the Hall of Dagon, Carolyn among them; there was the seemingly endless flow of young women in small groups making their way to the decayed waterfront on the north side of the Manuxet; and the young people ... Where the Hell are all the old folks? Shit! And that fuckin' fish smell ...

The stifling smell of dead fish pervaded the waterfront. Water Street was alive with activity. Jerry paused at the corner of Water and River Streets, nauseated by the smell of dead fish, his eyes scanning those mingling about. There were a few young men, yet most were women. Among them appeared a few natives of Innsmouth, distinguishable by their appearance, decayed and deformed like the town itself. And these natives of Innsmouth were the only ones who had taken any notice of Jerry being there.

They watched Jerry, scrutinizing him as he mingled about the young people on Water Street. Jerry wandered aimlessly, glancing about, taking note of those who were watching him. He began to wonder why he had come to the waterfront, to this side of town. He tried to convince himself that here he would find some grand answer to some unknown question, that it would reveal itself -- a single key that would unlock the door to all the hidden answers Jerry longed for. Still, deep inside, he knew he was on the proverbial fools errand.

Up ahead along the east side of Water Street lay a row of decayed warehouses. Jerry noted that many of the women were beginning to congregate in that area, some of them coming and going from various doors of the warehouse row. What the Hell is in there? I thought they were abandoned. His eyes locked on the row of warehouses, Jerry steered away, crossing to the west side of Water Street.

He stopped and watched. Young women entered various warehouses and others came out. Jerry thought it odd that none of the few young men were venturing near the warehouses. It was almost as if they didn't know or care what may be going on behind those doors. Standing at each door were Innsmouth natives in their long coats and floppy hats. Like fuckin' guards! Jerry shook his head and was turning away when something caught his eye. A shot of instant recognition raced through his mind. He stopped, and turned his gaze to the dark haired woman he had caught a momentary glimpse of. His gaze sought her out, then found her again. She was walking hurriedly through the crowd, walking along the warehouse row on the opposite side of the street.

"Vicki!" Jerry called out as he stepped into the street toward her.

Vicki Abrams paid no attention as she suddenly turned and disappeared through a door into one of the warehouses. Jerry jogged across the street toward the warehouse, toward the door which Vicki had disappeared through. The strange deformed figure standing before the door stepped forward, blocking Jerry's way.

Jerry stopped, glared at the deformed figure, then slowly began to back away. A course of action suddenly erupted upon his consciousness. It was so stark and clear, the only course of action he knew. To Hell with what's goin' on! We're gettin' the Hell outta here! And Jerry turned and ran back toward Gilman House.

* * *

Eyes watched Jerry as he hurried through the lobby of Gilman House and up the stairs to the second floor. With a passing glance at the padlock on the door to what had been Brian and Vicki's apart, he burst through the door of his own apartment, leaving it swinging behind him.

A tinkling of silverware told Jerry that Carolyn was in the kitchen. He hurried through the living room and into the kitchen. Carolyn, at the sink washing dishes, turned to face him as he paused just inside the kitchen door. He was gasping for breath, having run most of the way back from the waterfront, through the lobby of the Gilman House and up the stairs. Jerry's eyes were wide and uncertain, and he was shaking.

"Are you all right?" Carolyn said softly. "You look like you've seen a ghost."

Jerry paused, still gasping for air, then forced the words. "Might as well have seen a ghost," he blurted out between gasps.

Carolyn slowly put down the handful of knives and forks she held in one hand, and draped the dish towel she held in her other hand over her shoulder. "What happened, Jer?" Carolyn said, turning to face him again.

Jerry remained silent, his mind awash with memories of the past twenty four hours. His mind scanned the night before, seeing Carolyn with those gathered at the Hall of Dagon. He saw the strange figure wearing the tiara, saw the small groups of women walking toward the waterfront in the dark of the night, saw the strange figures in long coats and floppy hats that had appeared out of the dark to accompany them.

Those same figures he had just seen at the waterfront standing by the doors of the decaying warehouses, guarding against any unwanted intrusion, only permitting young women in and out of the warehouses. And there was his dream -- the fish thing that was standing over him, the same fish thing Jerry had seen in the portrait that Brian had painted of Vicki. Now Brian and Vicki had moved out supposedly.

Jerry stepped to the middle of the kitchen as he gathered his thoughts and steadied his breath. Carolyn watched him, her eyes beseeching, her mind concerned for what he knew, what he had found out. Her eyes followed his as he glanced at her, looked her over from head to toe, then noted that his eyes went wide as he focused on her rounded stomach. A sudden thought had just struck him.

Pregnant? Like Vicki, and like all the women I saw going into the warehouses on Water Street! They were all pregnant! What the Hell is going on here?!

But Jerry didn't want to know. He had already come to the conclusion that whatever was going on in Innsmouth, then let Innsmouth take care of its own. All he cared about was getting out, leaving the cursed and decaying old town as far behind as possible. He didn't care where they went, how long it took to get there, just to get out was all that mattered. The Hell with my writing! It can wait.

"Jer?" Carolyn voiced softly, her concern growing.

"Carolyn," Jerry stammered, his eyes still focused on her pregnancy. "Get your things together. We're leaving."

"Leaving?" Carolyn questioned, turning her head to one side and gazing at him from the corner of her eyes. "Why? What is going on?"

"I don't know what's going on," Jerry said hurriedly. "All I know is that we have to get out of here."

"Jerry, calm down," Carolyn replied, the tone of her voice soothing. In her mind she knew the time had come. "Jerry, there is something I want to show you."

"Show me?" Jerry was puzzled.

"Yes."

Carolyn turned away, walked across the kitchen, knowing Jerry's eyes followed her. She paused, knowing where she wanted to be, wanted to stand, then turned and smiled at Jerry. He stood there gazing at her, his eyes questioning, his back to the kitchen door. He was positioned where she wanted him.

"Show me what?" Jerry asked softly.

Carolyn tilted her head, continued to smile. She remained silent as she glanced down and softly ran a hand across the soft curve of her stomach. A shadow crossed the doorway of the kitchen. Jerry didn't see, wasn't aware. His full attention was given over to his wife, waiting for her to speak, to tell him what it was she wanted to show him. He took no notice of the shadow, the soft shuffling sound behind him, the growing scent of decaying fish.

A towering form loomed up behind him, a shadow crossing the kitchen floor. The shadow passed next to him, and he caught its movement out of the corner of his eye. And as he slowly turned his head in the direction of the shadow, a sharp pain exploded at the base of his skull. He felt himself falling, and then there was blackness before he ever hit the kitchen floor.

Still smiling, Carolyn peered down at her unconscious husband. "Tonight," she said softly, a distant look in her eyes. "I will show you tonight."

* * *

The blackness became a mixture of black and a soft dancing yellow as the world slowly began to return to Jerry. His vision was blurred, his senses still dimmed. He noted the soft dancing yellow light. It was faded and hazy, just on the fringes of his vision. A dull thumping at the base of his skull made his memory fall into place. There had been a shadow, someone or something behind him. I was ... hit. He groaned, lulling his head slowly to the side, felt the hard surface beneath him. The kitchen ... floor?

A soft rolling sound intruded upon his hearing, and he felt himself gently moving -- side to side as though he were rocking. Naw, not the kitchen floor. He concentrated on the sound, the soft rolling sound. Water. Sounds like ... water. He braced his hands against the hard surface beneath him and began to force himself up.

"Jerry?" It was Carolyn's voice, soft and questioning, and seemingly distant.

Jerry sat up, resting his hands on what appeared to be railings of some sort. He glanced around, squinting his eyes, trying to regain focus in order to ascertain his surroundings. He glanced at the clearing vision of Carolyn sitting just a few feet in front of him. Then he glanced at his hands, at the railings his hands were clutching. They weren't railings at all, but rather the gunwales of a small row boat.

The boat rocked gently on the water as Jerry peered about, his vision clearing. It was night, and Jerry found himself in a small rowboat just to the ocean side of Devil Reef. Carolyn sat opposite Jerry, facing him. The soft dancing yellow light was the light of torches mounted on Devil Reef. Jerry glanced at the reef, saw several small boats tied there. There were figures on the reef, some of them dancing a strangely hypnotic pirouette in the soft yellow glow of the torches. Beyond the reef he saw more torches, presumably in other small boats coming and going between Devil Reef and Innsmouth. And in the distance, shoreward, Jerry could see the soft feeble glow of the few streetlights that still worked in the decaying seaside village.

The dancing on Devil Reef caught Jerry's eye again, and he studied those gathered there more closely. There were many crowded upon the reef. Some, as he had noted in Innsmouth, were wearing long coats and floppy wide brimmed hats. There were many young women perched upon the reef, pregnant women sitting on outcroppings of coral, weaving their heads back and forth as if in motion to some strange and unheard music.

Wandering about atop the reef were several figures cast as silhouettes against the torch light. These figures wore no long coats, no wide brimmed hats. Jerry strained to see them in the shadows and dark of night. One crossed behind a torch, and Jerry's eyes went wide. It was a fish thing, one of those Brian had spoken of, one of those he had seen in his dream (but without the coat and hat). In that fleeting moment of light, Jerry saw it clearly, saw the glistening moisture of ocean water on its body, saw the discolored greenish-blue of its partially scaled skin, saw its misshapen head, its ridged outer ear, the gills in the side of its neck.

"Jerry," came Carolyn's soft voice once again, meant to gain his attention.

Jerry took his eyes from the reef and glanced at his wife. "What is going on here?" he asked. "Why are we out here in this ..."

"What I wanted to show you is here," Carolyn interrupted.

Thoughts with jagged edges rushed through Jerry's mind as he stared wide eyed at his wife. Slammed on the back of the head, now night -- out on the ocean by Devil Reef. Torches, pregnant women, freaky fish people, dancing ... What the Hell is this? Why am I here. Why are YOU here?

"I don't understand all this," Jerry said softly. "What are we doing ..."

"It would have come to this sooner or later," Carolyn said softly. She paused, glanced at her curved stomach, ran a hand over it, then looked back at Jerry. "I'm not leaving, Jer."

"What?" Jerry was incredulous.

"I am not leaving."

Jerry glanced at those gathered on Devil Reef, then back at his wife. "What's going on here? What do you have to do with all of this? Goddammit, Carolyn, I saw you last night at the Hall of Dagon!"

Carolyn sighed. She turned her eyes away, gazing upon the surface of the water. She watched the movement that had suddenly appeared, swimmers circling the boat at a distance. The swimmers kept just below the surface, not breaking for air, dark sleek forms gliding effortlessly through the water. Jerry glanced at them, but could not tell what they were.

The soft ethereal music of flutes suddenly began to drift across the water. Jerry glanced in the direction of the music, toward Devil Reef. Those gathered there were standing now, all of them, and many of them still dancing their strange pirouetting movements in the softly flickering light of the torches. Somebody is playing that fuckin' music. Somebody is ... Jerry's thoughts fell silent as soft unearthly voices whispered from the reef. They were hissing voices, hissing a tone and words that Jerry couldn't begin to guess the meaning of. Like a fuckin' chant.

"They are calling our Lord," Carolyn said softly as if reading Jerry's thoughts. "For you."

Jerry glanced back at Carolyn. "Our Lord? For me? What the Hell are you talking about?" Jerry paused, shaking his head, trying to gather his thoughts and words in form. "Carolyn, something is going on here, something not good. It's not safe here!"

A smile slowly crawled across Carolyn's face as she rested a hand on her stomach. "The father of my baby will protect me."

"Father of ...?" Jerry words were cut short as a sudden gush of water sounded behind Carolyn.

It was a spout, splashing over the bow of the boat directly behind her. Jerry unconsciously shuffled back in the small boat as far as he could go as the towering Deep One rose up from the water and climbed into the small boat behind Carolyn. The weight of the Deep One momentarily tipped the boat, Jerry's end rising part way out of the water. The Deep One took a seat behind Carolyn, and the boat settled on the water once again.

Jerry stared disbelievingly at the Deep One. It leaned forward, glared at Jerry, and rested a hand on Carolyn's shoulder. Carolyn continued to smile. Just like Brian's fuckin' portrait! And everything suddenly fell into place. Jerry knew without having to be told. The unconscious source of the title of his story, the same title Brian had used for the portrait -- Innsmouth Harvest. The pregnant young women. And the warehouses, so close to the goddam waterfront. A place for them to go, and make ...

Jerry shook the thought away. It was appalling, nauseating. He dwelled briefly on the dampness in his apartment, the footprints, the rancid smell of decaying fish, and knew that that thing had been there several times. And yet, one thing didn't make sense to Jerry, one thing he could piece together.

"What about the men?" Jerry asked softly. "What happened to all the men?"

"That's what I wanted to show you," Carolyn said softly.

The Deep One sitting behind Carolyn hissed a cackling laugh. It seemed to grin, and an unearthly glow shown in its yellow eyes. It raised its webbed hand from Carolyn's shoulder and gently stroked her hair as Carolyn glanced toward Devil Reef.

Jerry followed her gaze. The unearthly music of the flutes was growing louder, a cacophony of overlapping melodies. The dancers were dancing more frenzied, and the hissing voices that were chanting grew in volume, rolling across the water and calling out to the deep.

"The men," Carolyn began, her eyes trained on those gathered on the reef. "Although the women are harvested to bear children, our Lord still requires sacrifice."

"Sacrifice?" Jerry questioned, his voice almost a whisper. "Brian, he was ..."

"Sacrificed," Carolyn interrupted, completing Jerry's statement as she turned her eyes to him. "And now our Lord Dagon is called again. For you."

Before Carolyn's words had faded, three of the swimmers suddenly rose up out of the ocean and pulled Jerry from the boat. The night sky spun around, the water splashed, and the sound of the world above became muffled as water rushed into Jerry's ears. He fought against the three swimmers, noting that they were Deep Ones, the same as that thing that sat in the boat on the surface of the ocean with his wife.

Jerry fought frantically against the three Deep Ones as they pulled him down, deeper and deeper into the ocean. The flickering light of the torches on Devil Reef reflecting off the surface was fading. Darkness was closing in. Holding his breath, Jerry felt that his lungs were about to burst. How far down they had dragged him he didn't know. The water was murky, cold. He was exhausted, slowing his resistance. And suddenly the three Deep Ones were gone.

Weary, Jerry kicked and began a slow ascent toward the surface. Suddenly his movement was checked. He glanced down through the murky water and saw a tentacle wrapped around his ankle. From the murky water more tentacles were appearing. They were huge, monstrous things. A bulbous head appeared out of the murky depths. Two huge glaring yellow eyes loomed out of the darkness. Suddenly a huge maw lined with jagged teeth opened. The tentacle wrapped around his ankle was dragging him down, dragging him toward the huge opened maw.

Finally his lungs gave out. Water came rushing in, displacing the air, choking him. And as his sight began to fail, the last thing he felt was the pain of huge jagged teeth ripping through his flesh.

* * *

NOTE: Carolyn Daniels returned to her new home, a Harvesting warehouse on the Innsmouth waterfront. With a hybrid gestation period of six months, she bore eleven hybrid children over a period of eight years, and died trying to bear the twelfth.


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© 1997 Edward P. Berglund
"Innsmouth Harvest": © 1997 R.S. Cartwright. All rights reserved.
Graphics © 1997 Old Arkham Graphics Design. All rights reserved. Email to: Corey T. Whitworth.

Created: October 21, 1997; Updated: August 9, 2004