The Hunger in the North

He had been following her for three months as her trail cut across the country. She had started by the coast, moved inland, hit the other coast, and then veered North in what began as a zigzagged-dawdle that steadily picked up pace, intent and ferocity.

He had started about a month or so behind her and, as she went further North, her trail seemed to straighten and her speed to accelerate. He had no idea where she was heading but as she went further North, what had started as a con artist’s crime-spree became a serial killer’s rampage. The trail of bounced cheques that had landed the case on his desk had become a trail of destruction and then murder.

And then something horrifically more…

The murders started to become more vicious, more brutal and more violent. A strangled one-night stand in a dusty motel where a cheque had bounced became a body with multiple stab wounds in the next town.

Her ritual was evolving at a terrifying speed.

As she moved further North, the bodies started to become dismembered, torn apart and cast around the motels and lodges that she stayed in along the way. Bloody stained beds with sliced torsos were her centerpieces and torn-off limbs her ornaments around the room.

And then she started writing with her victims’ blood on the walls. Mad, crazed scrawls repeating the same phrase: IT HAS NO FORM. IT HAS NO FORM. IT HAS NO FORM

Again and again, she scrawled this on walls and mirrors using her victims’ gnawed-off fingers as grotesque paintbrushes and their blood as the paint.

Even as a federal agent, chasing down someone like her was out of his job description but back-up was far behind him. There were no airports around here and they were about a week or two’s drive back. He rarely did much fieldwork but as the trail grew more violent, his will to catch her grew, and the Directors all agreed with him that he was best positioned to catch her.

He had picked up her trail about a month or so behind her movements but he was now gaining on her. Cheque fraud took a while to pick up–it needed to work its way through the system before getting flagged and reported by the banks–but murders were found and reported within days, thus allowing him to leapfrog forward across multiple small towns and start to gain on her movements.

Her trail was also getting straighter and straighter. It was like something was pulling her into its dark gravity, like a distant black hole sucking her in. The abyssal pull had been soft and indirect when she was far away but as she got closer, the gravity grew stronger, her path grew straighter and her descent into the darkness grew faster.

He had never seen her and, despite vague accounts from sleepy motels clerks and odd cashiers, he also had no idea who she was.

She only ever paid fraudulent cheques or cash, had nothing registered in any name that actually existed and had an uncanny ability to avoid cameras and other recording devices. Despite the growing violence, she had never left an identifiable fingerprint at any scene nor any shred of evidence as to where she was from or where she may be heading to.

But as she went more North, she was starting to run out of country.

He spent more and more time pouring over maps and–purely accidentally when a diner’s waitress asked him if he was heading to “the hippy festival”–it started to dawn on him that she might be aiming for the All-light Freedom Fest. This was an annual festival held in the southern foothills of some mountains that ringed the last dinky little town left this far north along the coast, Blackpool Bay.

The annual “Hippy Fest”–as locals called it–would be perfect hunting grounds for her and he felt his skin crawl at the thought. Naive, intoxicated kids dancing in fields and sleeping with strangers would be easy pickings for a predator.

His knuckles turned white as his grip tightened on the steering wheel of his rental car. His skin crawling and his heart pounding, the steering wheel began to shake slightly as he sped along towards god-only-knows-what

But he was too late.

When he arrived at the Hippy Fest there was a small crowd of bewildered, hungover kids loitering around. The collection of loosely dressed hippies–a couple of the girls weeping softly, most of the boys pale white with expressions of various degrees of disassociation displayed–were standing around an old, slightly dinged-up campervan in the middle of a wide green field dotted with tents.

He flashed his badge and pushed through the crowd. They parted without a word and one of the guys started weeping too.

The campervan’s door was partially open and he could see a trickle of blood dripping out from it. He mentally prepared himself for what lay inside and carefully pushed the door fully open, stepped over the pooling blood, and entered a scene of frenzy and violence matched only by his inability to describe the horror with adequate adjectives.

The victim has been torn into so many pieces that he had no idea if it was a man or a woman. Blood splattered every surface in that cramped campervan of nightmares with flesh, guts and parts of limbs hurled everywhere.

And, on every surface splattered with blood and gore, she had violently scrawled her phrase that had now expanded to a full, terrifying sentence: IT HAS NO FORM SO NEITHER SHALL WE. IT HAS NO FORM SO NEITHER SHALL WE...

After a few minutes, he stepped from the campervan back into the light of day. Despite this, a part of him would never truly leave that scene. A part of him would always be standing in the cramped campervan amidst that horror. In the darkest of nights and the depths of his soul, he would never quite leave that antediluvian scene of unimaginable savagery.

He closed his eyes and, pinching the bridge of his nose, he breathed deeply trying to calm himself. He knew what he had to do now.

She never stayed in a place after killing, and there was only one place left to go. Why? Why did she want to go there? What darkness there could be pulling her towards it?

He did not know but he did know what he had to do now. He ran from that campervan of horrors to his car, leaped into it and began to drive on the single, winding, old road that cut through the mountains and down towards Blackpool Bay.

She had to be going there. He had no idea why? Who or what was in Blackpool Bay?

***

It was nearly midnight when he descended from the old road into Blackpool Bay. Even on the village’s main road, few lights were on and he slowed the car down as he scanned his surroundings. He was not sure what he had expected? She was not just going to jump out. It was nearly midnight and she had probably found a motel or somewhere to sleep.

Looking around him, he saw what appeared to be a small motel at the bottom of the road near the pier and the ocean’s edge. It was a cloudless, moonless night and the stars looked cold and distant far above. The ocean looked dark and brooding and, as he pulled up beside the motel and got out his car, he found his gaze being pulled to its primordial presence.

And that was when he saw her standing on the edge of that cold, dark pier staring straight out into Blackpool Bay itself.

His heart started pounding in his chest and the hair on the back of his neck started to rise. He did not know how but he knew that it was her. He could almost feel her standing out on the edge of that strange, dark pier at midnight. Despite all he had seen on her violent trail, he suddenly felt like a voyeur peeking at some secret or ancient mystery that he should not be witnessing and he found himself holding his breath.

He swallowed these thoughts, tried to calm his nerves, and grabbed his gun. The cold metal felt real and it calmed him down a little. Her back was still to him and so he quietly crossed the road to stand at the edge of the pier. She had nowhere to go and no one around to harm.

Her trail ended here.

Checking his gun’s safety was off, he started down the pier towards her.

That was when he saw them. How had he missed them? How had they gotten there? Had they been there all along and he had just not seen them?

They were hard to describe and had forms that your eyes struggled to focus on. But, when the horrors of the campervan woke him up at night and before his conscious mind was fully in control, his subconscious would remember that they had looked very much like piscine horrors with scales, slimy limbs and tentacles that could have crawled up from the darkest depths of the ocean itself. Where human heads with human features should have been, slimy, scaled fish-like faces stared out at him with inhuman, unblinking coldness. Long, thin limbs and tentacles in strange places juxtaposed with a bizarre aura of intelligence around them. An inhuman, alien and cold intelligence that revealed itself when one of these strange, slimy fish-like beings lifted a strange, curling trident and emotionlessly pointed at him.

And then he had reached the end of the pier and was standing behind her. He gasped a breath, realizing that he had been holding his breath this whole time and almost gagged as a strange, sharp vileness pervaded the cold, salty coastal air.

She had red hair.

He blinked. Yes, she had red hair and–surrounded by such strange, darkness and alien nightmares–he found his mind latching on this single detail for its normalcy.

All the piscine horrors around her began to raise their wicked tridents, their tentacles and arms swaying in a nightmarish throng around her. The wind began to howl, ferocious waves suddenly smashing against the pier as the surface of the ocean frothed and bubbled like some hellish seascape.

But–calm and cold–she turned to look directly at him. Surrounded by a maddening throng of swaying piscine limbs and tentacles, she smiled slightly and said:

“It has no form for It is hunger. The Great, Old Hunger, and the Chosen must feed It for if we do not, then It will surely consume everything again.”

And then she was gone.

***

He awoke the next morning on the pier, covered in frigid sea spray and cold sweat. His head was throbbing and his body aching. All the bullets where still in his gun and his gun was still in his hand. He got up and looked around.

He did not know how he had fallen asleep or passed out, nor could he remember anything other than a vague horror when trying to recall what had happened after she had spoken.

What had happened?

He did not remember how she had gone or where she had gone. Somehow, though, he knew that she was gone. Somehow he just knew that her murderous trail had ended and he shuddered as a single, horrifying thought crossed his mind.

What antediluvian nightmare could exist whose dark influence could reach across the very land to pull her to the edge of that pier jutting out into the ocean? What dark forgotten god could exist that inspired such a violent trail as she fled into its hungering maw? What horrific leviathan may be lying in the deep and how long had it quietly slept hidden far below the cold, dark waters of quaint little Blackpool Bay?