Pt. 1: The Dream
About a year – maybe two – ago, I had a dream of a small oceanside town. The sort of town that stood out of time (think Chilling Adventures of Sabrina or It Follows). Sea salt worn wooden homes built on stills and brick buildings perpetually covered in algae.
Record players played in hotel lobbies as gentlemen dressed in their business attire sat cross-legged smoking cigars and laughing at the trivialities of their day, while older men scanned the late edition of the town’s newspaper, rubbing their fingers over their whiskered chins. Women were mostly seen and not heard in this town without a name.
Down the road from what I understood was the town’s public library, sat a small Turkish coffee shop. Young men in Shelby caps gathered there to play cards or ogle the baristas, whose hips they swore were child-bearing and whose legs went on for miles. You can always find yourself a gal there. It was a common statement passed around the college campus that sat center of the town.
A bus system runs through the town, but cabs and ride-share services also exist, though not in plenty. Most people prefer to walk as most things are within walking distance from their homes. They only use a car when it’s absolutely necessary. As the effect, the sidewalks are crowded with the people who live there and the roads are occupied by cyclists.
As I explored this small town, I noticed that most of its residents were cast down their eyes when I looked their way. Not too friendly with strangers, I thought.
I ducked into an alley, dodging heaps of garbage spilling out of dumpsters. The stench of decaying sea life filling my nostrils, burning its memory into my sense of smell. Upon my exit of the alley, I found myself standing before a factory. The machines inside whirling and churning, though I saw no signs of life from within.
Entering the building, I saw corpses hung on meat hooks, swaying with an unknown breeze. In the center of the building stood a conveyor machine which fed the bodies into a grinder. It was then I noticed that the corpses hanging from the hooks were not human. Not completely, anyway. They were some sort of hybrid. Part man, part – what? Some sort of aquatic lifeform. I turned for the door but found it had sealed itself. No exit. No windows to climb from. Just the dead creatures. Just the conveyor belt. The churning sounds of the grinder as body after body was fed to it.
At that moment of despair, a small voice came from within the building. And the machines began to quite. The building dissolved into nothing. The bodies gone, but the stench of their rot lingered. Before me stood a totem. The voice continuing to chant the same words: It all goes quiet here.
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- Houses Under the Sea by Caitlin R. Kiernan
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- The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge