Weird Shadows Over Innsmouth by Stephen Jones

Weird Shadows Over Innsmouth by Stephen Jones

Author:Stephen Jones [Jones, Stephen]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781781165300
Publisher: Titan
Published: 2013-09-19T21:28:00+00:00



GO TO THE SHORES the washed-out billboard had ordered. Scott wondered why they hadn’t repainted the sign, or torn it down, as is it made a poor advertisement for a vacation spot. He could detect traces of successive layers of advertising, the latest being a dark-haired woman in a bikini, lounging on the sand, her red lips pouting at passing drivers. Her lips were the only part of her still bright, blood-like in comparison to the rest. Her skin had faded into a series of pale, rough blotches. Her black hair had receded into greyish cobwebs, her bikini merely a sketch that made her more hideous than seductive. Her eyes had been torn out.

Other things were revealed by tattered windows in this top layer of billboard: a piece of thick rope, part of an ancient vessel, a darkened tentacle of squid or octopus. There were letters and words as well, peeking through the torn spaces or leaking into the thin top layers of paper, but they appeared backwards, part of some foreign alphabet he did not recognise.

It’s like a dream of the beach, he had thought, but someone else’s dream and not your own. He wondered at the peculiar perception. The dream of someone much like himself who never went to the beach, who knew it only from movies and guidebooks or ancient, crumbling billboards erected in weedy lots too far off the interstate to be inviting. In the dream there is no sensation of sand between the toes, clinging to the back, the gritty feel of it inside wet swimming trunks, because the dreamer has not walked in sand for a very long time now, not since he was eight, and there had been that last trip to a broken-down seedy pier a few weeks before his parents’ divorce.

In the dream the beach is wide and hot, brilliantly overlit in the way dreams can be when something essential is about to occur. The heated glare makes the faces of his fellow swimmers almost impossible to see, and in any case he knows he would avert his eyes if a viewing seemed imminent.

Now and then someone wades offshore and does not return, but no one else appears to be alarmed.

The blue of the water is an unnatural blue, a neon blue, and he lets it ease up over his feet without protest, and does not object even when it begins to lick away at his ankles, or lap up over his knees, tendrils of it exploring his swimtrunks and rising up over each vertebrae of his spinal column. Only when it pulls him does he become alarmed, and he sees that the water is suddenly a deep, stagnant green, and he struggles back toward the shore, but his feet slip on the scummy surface of the submerged sand, and he is pulled farther away from the beach and from the bathers with their brilliant, formless faces, and soon he is no longer a part of that life, which is receding rapidly, as if it never was.


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