the great red dagon [boot tread]

Prompt from a comment on AO3:

How about a prompt based off of this: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagon_(film)?

CoralQueen

Now, this is an interesting prompt. The link takes you to the 2001 Spanish movie based on the H.P. Lovecraft novella, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, but the title is also the name of a short story which the movie is not based on, Dagon.

For this prompt, I went with the short story, Dagon, which you can all read here. It’s only 2200 words. I went outside the box for this prompt. I hope you all enjoy it.

This ficlet was originally posted on Archive of Our Own (AO3) as a short story written by one of my reoccurring fictional characters, Hopper. At the time, it was an essay he had written for his creative writing class in 1956  (complete with several errors).

1627 words

Cristobal Diaz | OCEANA

No one believed me by the time we had reached the shore. I was mad. They called me “touched by the sea,” but had no idea of the horrors I had witnessed. They hauled me inland as per my request and gave me an unlimited supply of sedatives. I did not argue, and this is why.

We were halfway to Alaska, netting the mighty blue, when we were caught in a deluge that rivaled The Great Flood. Sheets pummeled us, drowning out orders and warnings, and the mighty wind cracked against us, tipping the vessel to its side. Even our great mass was not heavy enough to stabilize the hull. The stern let out a holler that put the lightning to shame, and we were suddenly in two pieces and drowning.

I floundered and tread until I hauled myself into a small lifeless boat, already filled with water and nearly sinking. I bailed what I could, and by the time only an inch of brine was left under my heels, the storm had vanished, and with it went my ship, the crew, and the choppy waters.

The sea was suddenly glass. No breeze rippled it or moved my boat. I was soaked and now dead in the water. I feared to reach over the side, as the sea seemed to cut my boat like a knife. I was set on a mirror that reflected the blinding sun, scorching my skin as I waited for someone or something to find me.

I never thought I would wish for a pistol to turn upon myself, but by day two, when I had not drifted a discernible distance or wetted my cracking lips, I yearned for a bullet to end it. That yearning was just as palpable on day three when they finally found me. They were not Americans on large vessels, or Inuits in dugout canoes. They did not glide across the glass to me, nor did they soar overhead and spot me from a trans-pacific flight. They came from below.

Black webbed fingers crept over the edge of my boat, two at first, and then three. Three hands turned to six and I scrambled to the stern. In a matter of seconds, the boat was flipped and the bright open sky bubbled above me. I thrashed but grew weak and those webbed fingers gripped my ankles and hauled me down until the bubbling sky was an abyss miles above.

They took me where the sun no longer feeds the sea plants.  They took me to a place where schools of fish refuse to hide and the mighty sharks won’t hunt. They took me to the bottom of a great chasm cut into the earth like a scar on the face of the sea floor. They took me to a stone chamber where I was left to choke and writhe on the lung-filling icy liquids of the deep, begging for death, though it never came.

Days are not days without the sun. Nights are not nights without the filling moon. Time is unending at the bottom, and the pain in my chest was ceaseless. If given the chance, however, I would relive those freshly inflicted pains until the earth collapsed upon itself. I would live again through every burning, aching false breath and the agony of my newly frozen eyes. I would welcome once more, my numb fingers and empty gut until the universe exploded, just to avoid reliving what would happen next.

He came one day or night, I know not which. He did not rap or call to me. I was hauled out and presented to him, tied with ropes to a cross made of metal pipes from my own ship.

White globes encircled and cast us in an eerie, bewitching light. He was not a man but a beast of the depths. His body was gray, cut from stone and covered in fleshy scales. His arms were that of a titan, bulging and brutal and at the ends he bore black webbed fingers. His head was more like a honed skull than a human face. Thick pouting lips covered the fangs that protruded from his jaw and golden eyes pierced me as I wrenched against my bone-chilling restraints. As he hovered in front of me, studying me as one might a rotting corpse that washed ashore, I finally saw the rest of him.

At his hip were not legs, but a long undulating silver tail. It shone like a mirror as it flicked below his body, reflecting the orbs that circled us. An icy chill radiated from it, and though I was already numb, the cold plowed through me and I shook.

A glint caught my eye and I saw in his hand what I will never forget. He held a knife, bowed like a raptor’s claw. I couldn’t yell through the water which perpetually filled my mouth, nor thrash against my crucifix. I was stuck and waiting to be gutted like a fish.

Just below my ribs, I felt the knife slide into my body. My mouth grew agape but no shriek echoed through my watery prison. I swallowed my tongue in agonizing pain as I watched the creature disappear in a cloud of vibrant red.

My body burned and writhed and another rosy murk pulsed from below. I was twisted and yanked and was again consumed by another throb of crimson fog. When the attack suddenly ceased and the water began to clear, I felt my chest slowly rise as I floated from my lower half. Then two sharp gashes cut my wrists from my hands and consequentially my restraints, and I was left adrift.

When I awoke I had been returned to my stone cave at the bottom of the endless chasm. My body had been massacred and I shook with shock and misery. I dared not touch myself, for I knew no hands remained. When my torment grew too great, I finally pawed at my phantom legs with what was left of my frozen stumps. What I found were tingling fingers sliding down a slimy tail. Over my gut were coarse and crudely-stitched cords, laced between my soft flesh and the cold silvery tail of my captor.

In the glow of the single orb that lit my cell, I could see in its moonlight my black webbed hands. They did not move like my hands, they ached with each flick of my wrist. They trembled and pulsed, sending long black veins up my now naked arms.

I dared not look upon my tail. It was grotesque and unnatural and I was fearful of it. I could move around my cell with ease and grace, but the sheer magnitude of its strength terrified me. It had razors down its spine, and in its silver scales, I could see the outline of my face. I’d looked once, and what I saw was ungodly so I never looked again.

I was neither fed nor clothed, but left for an eternity to rot. Over time, my skin bloated and softened like a dead fish and chunks were nibbled away by passing crabs. I gradually covered in a slippery mucous by the fungus that grew on the walls of my craggy hole.

I begged for sweet death to come and rescue me, since my heart had stopped beating years before, but that cruel witch never came. Perhaps she was as scared of him as I was.

He returned not long after I’d given up. I’d burrowed beneath the sandy bottom when I felt fingers grasp my gritty hair. I was ripped from the ground and twisted to face him, his golden eyes furious at what his glorious tail had become. It hung loose and pathetic from my abdomen, the cords pulling and gaping below my navel. My white skin stretched and tore from the mighty girth hanging from it, and a lack of use had caused my long black fingers to twist into ebony claws.

He bared his silvery fangs, bubbles erupting from his nose and mouth. I had laid unmoving on the seabed, allowing the bottom dwellers to pick at my skin and my sanity, and he was furious at this disrespect I showed him. The knife glinted again and I closed my eyes this time, as it tore into me with an even greater and more ferocious fervor. We were plunged again into a great red plume that devoured us both, and then some. I waited for more, but there was only one crimson tide before the creature, and the depths, took my consciousness from me.

When I awoke on my back, surrounded by merchants ordering me to breathe, they were certain it was a nightmare I had witnessed. The men yelled and screamed and demanded to know who I was and from where I had come. I spoke of a creature who gave me black hands and I showed them. They scoffed at my lily-white fingers. I pleaded for their faith that a creature sewed a tail to me, but when I kicked my legs, they laughed.

I was mad. I was locked away where I begged for sedation. Instead, they plunged me into twilight sleep, though I had already lived through a decade of that at the bottom of the great ocean. They left me to flounder in a forgotten room in a long-abandoned building. They left me weak and comatose, waiting yet again for death, and this punishment was fair and just. They said I had been “touched by the sea,” and would never know how right they truly were. The sea had given me a rare gift, and I wasted it.