Selkie

This is a story I wrote several years ago for a Lovecraftian adventure anthology.  It was my take on Shadow Over Innsmouth, and a horrific aspect of that story I didn’t see explored often enough.  It turned out more fairy tale than adventure story, which may have been why it didn’t get in, but here it is nevertheless.

When Faith was eight and her skin was pale and ever-cold, she was given a lovely present. There was no library in her town, and so it was a special surprise for the girl when her father returned one day from a visit out of town with a book of fairy tales.  Faith was old enough to read at that age, and so she looked through the colorful pages, marveling at the strange, small-eyed beauty of the people therein.  The most beautiful of all was a woman called a Selkie; she came from the sea, but her husband kept her on land by hiding her seal-skin where she could not find it.

This is wrong, the child wanted to say.  This is not how it happens.  But she filed the story away in her mind nevertheless, and there it stayed, alongside her history and daily prayers.

***

When Faith was fourteen and her face had grown round and thick, she sat with the boy she loved by shores of the sea.  Thomas’s eyes were larger than hers, the skin between his fingers more tightly woven, but he found her beautiful nevertheless.  They were romantic young things and spoke of marriage, a prospect farther off for one of them than the other.

“There’s no reason why we couldn’t,” Faith protested.  “My family is as old as yours.”

“Old, perhaps” he responded, “but how pure?  Who was it last came from the sea in your line?”

“My great-grandmother,” she admitted.

“Then the change won’t come upon you until you’re fifty.  By then, they’ll have married me off long ago.  I suppose it won’t be so bad- they let father come to see me sometimes, so perhaps they’ll let me make visits back as well.”

He squeezed her hand, and she leaned against him sadly.  They said nothing for a time, then Faith and Thomas exchanged their first kiss beneath the ugly waxing moon.

***

When Faith was eighteen and her eyes had finally reached their proper size, there was no longer any time to wait.  She and Thomas had made up their minds and packed their bags in the early morning light, when all would be too tired to notice them.  They had taken only what was their inheritance, the gold necklaces and jewel-encrusted daggers given to their ancestors for marrying with a mermaid (before it was known to be a sacred act, and not a mercenary one.)  

They could live on their inheritance, if neither Faith nor Thomas could find employment.  The people of the surrounding towns disliked those with the look of the mermaids upon them, but they would take their gold in trade nevertheless.  The lovers would keep to themselves and each would be all the other needed.  If, someday, the changes grew too great to live upon the land, they would take to the sea hand in hand, not sold apart.

“Are you ready?” he asked her.  “You can’t change your mind after we’ve left.  They’ll be angry at us-”

“Let them be.  I’m coming with you.”  Faith squeezed his hand and he kissed her on the forehead before slinging his backpack over his shoulders.  They had nothing left to wait for and everything to lose, so they headed behind the buildings of town toward the woods.  Once they were hidden by the trees, it would all be so much easier, even if they had to spend a night or two sleeping upon the forest floor.

Faith drew back at one point, certain she saw someone in a window watching them, but Thomas assured her he hadn’t seen anything, and it was all just her nerves.  From shadow to shadow they crept, until there were no more buildings to cast shadows and the way ahead of them was dreadfully bright.

They still might have gotten away if Thomas hadn’t tripped while running and let out a shout.  There was no way the two of them could pretend they hadn’t been running away when, in front and behind them, there appeared grown and heavyset neighbors seeing what all the fuss was about.  After all, what they saw was two teenagers with backpacks in the shadows, one of whom was to be married that very day.

To one side there were houses, to the other side there were walls.  Faith looked at Thomas and did her best to smile.

“It won’t be that bad” she said, more of a plea than an assurance.  “Right?  You told me once that it wouldn’t be that bad.”

“I really don’t know,” said Thomas.  It was the last thing he said before the adults pulled them apart from each other, and the sheer hopelessness in his tone snapped what remained of Faith’s calm.  She struck and kicked at the adult hands, trying to create a distraction in which her love could flee, but he only let himself be carried off, looking as if he were already dead.

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H.P Lovecraft, 1936, The Shadow Over Innsmouth: I cannot even begin to describe the abominable results of the unspeakable unions between humans and the monstrosities that lurk in the depths of the Stygian abyss. Our language is mercifully unable to convey the horror spawned by these crimes against all which is good and right in the world, the awful truth made evident by those bulging, unblinking eyes and nauseating rubbery skin.

Guillermo Del Toro, 2017, The Shape Of Water: So, there’s this woman and there’s this fishman. They’re gonna love each other and fuck, just fyi.

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The final boss of our dungeons and dragons campaign: Y’gathok, the great old one, the infinite hunger. My players deserved an amazing fight for their send off, so I went as ham as I can. Being a DM is all about making sure the players have the best time.

Thank you Critical Role for sparking this D&D campaign, and thank you specifically Matt Mercer for reminding me what it is to be creative.

variety.com
Jordan Peele to Produce HBO Series ‘Lovecraft Country’ With J.J. Abrams, Misha Green
Jordan Peele will executive produce the new series “Lovecraft Country,” which has been ordered straight-to-series at HBO, Variety has confirmed. Based on the book of the same name by Ma…
By Joe Otterson

Jordan Peele will executive produce the new series “Lovecraft Country,” which has been ordered straight-to-series at HBO, Variety has confirmed.

Based on the book of the same name by Matt Ruff, the anthology horror series follows 25-year-old Atticus Black, who joins up with his friend Letitia and his Uncle George to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America to find his missing father.  They must survive and overcome both the racist terrors of white America and the malevolent spirits that could be ripped from a Lovecraft paperback.

“Underground” co-creator  and showrunner Misha Green will write and executive produce the series, with Peele executive producing through his Monkeypaw Productions banner.  J.J. Abrams and Ben Stephenson will also executive produce through Bad Robot, with Warner Bros. Television producing.

Peele, who broke out on the Comedy Central series “Key & Peele,” has been in high demand ever since the success of his low-budget horror film “Get Out.”  The film, about a black man who discovers a dark secret at his Caucasian girlfriend’s family estate, has grossed almost $215 million worldwide on a $4.5 million budget.

He recently signed a first-look deal with Universal Pictures based on the success of “Get Out.”  Under the deal, Universal will develop Peele’s next film, an untitled social thriller, which he will write, direct, and produce based on his original idea.  In addition, Peele will also produce a wide range of movies for the studio through Monkeypaw Productions, including several micro-budget projects with Jason Blum, as he did with “Get Out.”

For Green, the new series comes along as the fate of “Underground” remains uncertain.  Despite critical praise, the WGN America show saw a drop in the live-plus-same day ratings during its sophomore season.  In addition, Sinclair Broadcasting recently announced they will acquire WGN parent company Tribune Media, with plans to shift focus away from producing original series.  To that end, WGN recently canceled their other original, “Outsiders,” which enjoyed higher ratings than “Underground.”

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Captain Steve Rogers, Lovecraftian Horror

Title: The Miskatonic Project
Rating: PG-13 for horror themes, death
Summary: Abraham Erskine may have invented something new with the Serum – or maybe he re-created something very old. Something…Elder.
Notes: I should be working on like three other fanfics but I had a TERRIBLE DREAM this afternoon and anyway this only took about half an hour to write.

***

Steve came out of the Vita-Ray machine…different. 

Of course he looked different – taller, thickly muscled, skin gleaming. But it wasn’t the change in his appearance so much as the…sensation people felt around him. Howard claimed not to feel it, and Erskine died before he could weigh in. Peggy felt it, but not in the way others did. To her, he seemed otherworldly, but like an angel or a religious vision – comforting under a layer of unreality. She even liked the strange black pupils he’d developed, so big and dark you could hardly see the whites of his eyes at all. 

Others, however…. 

She didn’t see him pull the Hydra agent out of the submarine after Erskine’s assassination. Only three people did – a cab driver, a little boy, and the boy’s mother. The cab driver wouldn’t say a word, and the boy’s mother stuttered and stammered so badly they finally gave up. The little boy just said, “Well, he got him,” and looked admiringly at Steve. 

Steve wasn’t wet, but the submarine lay on the deck of the pier, and the man next to it was dead, a rictus of horror on his face. 

(There is a readmore below! Read more!)

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