Through Sea and Fog

Staryk’s Journal
June, 03, 2010
Location: Gulf of Maine, approaching Hague Line toward Canada (I think).

Day Nine

This is the seventh day of persistent fog in these waters. The days have been relatively calm for the Gulf of Maine, and the water appears viscous, like molasses or oil. There’s no capillary wave action just the rise and fall of smooth, long swells. We have seen no sign of the Thing. I doubt if the coordinates of the unknown island we were given are even correct. At this point, I am willing to give into the fancy that we are not even in the Atlantic or even on Earth anymore. The fog makes the Gulf of Maine seem alien, like there could be terrific creatures lurking just beyond the fog waiting for the right opportunity to strike our small vessel. Of course, the fact that I am even on this expedition allows me to take these flights of fancy, regardless of my intellectual and rational position as a scientist.

Some time ago, we left from Woods Hole to investigate the rumors of a Thing that was responsible for the death of nearly every man, woman, and child in the town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts. Innsmouth is no stranger to tragedy after the strange occurrence about eighty years ago when the town was mysteriously fired upon by the US Navy. A tragedy that was always remembered as the worst communication failure between naval vessels during a training exercise in American history. Of course, conspiracy theorists continue to spin the yarn that something sinister went on in Innsmouth and the Navy responded in kind. As with all conspiracies, conjecture and leaps of logic were the only evidence holding the paranoid tale together. And it was all connected to the ridiculous idea that a strange cult had converted the people of Innsmouth and changed them. It was nothing more than a dark fairy tale to spout to tourists throughout Massachusetts. It was good for business, like the monster of Loch Ness or the weather balloon/alien spacecraft of Roswell. Soon enough, Innsmouth became a tourist trap, a place of cheap hotels, cheap liquor, cheap food, and cheap thrills at beach resort prices. It was even popular for a diehard breed of spring breakers.

Even with my assurance of the bizarre conspiracy and clever marketing ploy, it has been eighty years since the first disaster, and now, another inexplicable tragedy befell the town. A drunken sailor landed near Woods Hole spouting gibberish about a thing attacking the town of Innsmouth. The babbling fool called the creature by some name, but the words were jumbled, incomprehensible syllables of booze and madness. In his intoxicated fashion, the drunk also told us of an island, naturally, not on any chart, in the Gulf of Maine. As if an island could lay undiscovered in the waters off the eastern seaboard after all this time. The drunk says it is new and has risen from the sea. Let’s not discuss the geological impossibilities of this tale, but he did give us coordinates.

We left Woods Hole with a ship and a captain dedicated to discovering the truth as well. Apparently, he grew up in Innsmouth after it was repopulated. He claimed the original inhabitants of Innsmouth as part of his ancestry. He hadn’t been there for years, but wanted to see what had happened for himself. He was a strange sort; he had some of the largest, blackest eyes I had ever seen.

When we steamed into what was left of the dockyards at Innsmouth we found destruction, but nothing that could point to a monster or thing. The town appeared to have been hit by a huge wave, a rogue wave perhaps as there had been no seismic activity to point to a tsunami. Debris was scattered across the surface waters of the harbor, and even houses could be seen floating out to sea. We didn’t find bodies floating amidst the wreckage. The idea was suggested that we should follow the debris trail for identifiable bodies or even survivors. The Coast Guard was called and soon every ship and helicopter that could be spared was searching Georges Banks for wreckage in the vain hope that there would be survivors. By the second day, my hopes were crushed.

The captain of our vessel grew impatient and called a meeting where it was agreed that we should follow the coordinates to this mysterious island. I believed it to be a fool’s errand to follow the hallucinogenic ravings of a drunken sailor. I was overruled. The decision had been made, and our ship left the recovery zone and was soon enveloped by the fog along Georges Banks, and we soon steamed into the Gulf of Maine. Even the angry radio calls from the Coast Guard for our swift return seemed to fade away.

We soon found evidence of a large predator in these waters. Massive pods of whales were slaughtered with such ferocity that even a whaler would cringe. The evidence from these attacks has shown that the predator uses not only tentacles but massive five-fingered claws to rip through its prey. The size of the Thing could rival a blue whale. I swear upon my profession as a scientist that this evidence is true; although, I find the evidence to be impossibly ghastly. We have also found remains of wrecked vessels; the most disturbing wreck was a large cargo vessel, still sinking into the murky depths. A massive hole in its hull doomed the ship to its fate. There were no signs of life or death. How we never heard a distress call is beyond my knowledge. Even I was beginning to feel the fervor of the crew, officers, and fellow scientists. The Thing was real.

That damn captain continues with the constant blasting of the fog horn at two minute intervals. I understand the safety precautions in normal situations, but the two objects out here are us and the Thing. And the fog horn is similar to ringing the dinner bell. Not to mention a marine predator could get very close to the ship. The fog out here restricts visibility to about a hundred to three hundred meters.

This part of the voyage had never been planned, so supplies are low. The crew is still in high spirits, seemingly sustained with the desire to kill this Thing. The cook would probably make the attempt to cook the Thing’s flesh. He is a fine cook, but I feel we will die before he can try to cook such an original cuisine. My fellow scientists still retain some semblance of detached curiosity and ego, although they do occasionally prance around like excited school children as they trade hypotheses about the origins of the beast through excited whispers. And the captain; ah, yes, the captain. He keeps his eyes narrowed and focused on the fog as if he could see the horizon through this opaque, white mist. I would think he would have better luck focused on his navigation equipment; after all, we have coordinates.    The sea is not releasing the secret of the Thing or the Island, and the fog veils in mystery what was once familiar. We no longer catch glimpses of pods of dolphins or hear the phantom sounds of breaching whales just beyond the fog. We are alone. We know only the roar of the engine, the blasting of the fog horn, the heaving of our breath, and the silence of the open sea. I pray this is all that we witness. The general alarm has just been raised. Either we have a fire or the Thing has been seen. I pray it is a fire.

What’s that putrid stench?

© 2016 C. J. Staryk. All Rights Reserved.

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