Despite being late Summer, the air of Blackpool Bay retained a surprising chill to it. It was likely that the ocean’s nearby current cooled the air but none of the dour, weathered locals seemed to notice. By the looks of them, he doubted that any of them cared.
He had read in a National Geographic that a deep ocean current swirled near to the surface along this isolated shoreline. The current was normally further out to sea and deep under the surface but, for some reason, these ancient, unknowable waters surfaced around Blackpool Bay. Maybe there was some underwater obstruction or architecture that guided the water in such a way? Maybe it was just due to the angle that the Earth rotated through space? Maybe it was more bizarre?
No one yet knew nor were we ever likely to know why.
The effect, though, was that this current washed strange and mysterious creatures up on Blackpool Bay’s beaches. Some as simple as foreign, exotic fish–striped, rainbowed and sparkling–from some distant tropical sea caught in a current stronger than them.
Others were far more haunting.
The locals spoke of creatures washing up on their beaches from pale translucent skins to glowing, bulbous-orbed devils. Some had tentacles while a few even had appendices that man had not yet thought to name.
These thoughts all tumbled through his mind as he stepped onto the docks. Ironically, sea travel did not agree with him. He would have flown into a nearby town and then driven but the new highway that was supposed to be built here had been canceled under strange circumstances. That left him only sea travel as the quickest and most direct route to Blackpool Bay.
He briefly pondered what might have passed below his feet as he had sailed here. The thought both scared and excited him while leaving him wondering what it was that they had found washed up on their beach this time?
“Where is the specimen?” he asked the technician, “And where are your tools?”
The man stammered an apology and ushered him out of the room and into the next one that lay behind a heavy set door.
The moment he stepped into the next room, he knew he was in the right place: there was a large drop in temperature while his nostrils were assaulted with a chemical smell. The latter hid the smell of decay, whose sickly sweet aroma hid just behind the chemicals.
But this room also smelt of one more thing. One unique flavor: a slimy, salt. Dead fish.
He was in the right room.
“Come over here, Sir,” the technician stooped, motioning towards a slide out slab in the wall of the morgue, “It is here.”
He paused. He had come so far to see this that he was suddenly nervous. He scolded himself for the hesitation and stepped forward. This might make a great chapter in his next book on the monsters hiding in the ocean.
The technician slid open the slab and horror unfolded before my eyes.
“It–it really is special,” he said, almost breathless as he took in the boneless body, its translucent tentacles swirling around the monster’s mouth and its bulbous eyes in their infinite inky depths. Across what he could only assume was the monster’s equivalent of a head, a single occult pattern was embedded into its delicate scales in thin, precise, dark lines.
“If I didn’t know better,” he breathed, unaware that he was talking aloud, “I’d swear that that was a tattoo of quite ancient and evil intent…”
“Yes, Sir,” the technician blurted out, “That is a tattoo of the Devil’s Mark. This creature is from Lucifer himself, an agent of Jones that crawled out of his Locker somewhere out there.”
Entrails and three hearts lay around him. Blood soaked gauze rested heavily in his hands as the room grew darker each moment that he stared at what he had found.
Except for its vicious teeth, the creature was completely boneless. Halfway to a jellyfish but with apt and likely very maneuverable tentacles like an octopus. It was large too and likely to be about the size of a man if floating out in the water, though some of the tentacles stretched out almost double that length. At the centre of the monster’s mass was its brain, larger than expected, and a face with multiple–seventeen in total–black, bulbous eyes looking out in a nearly full circle around it. Beneath the mass, circled with tentacles and topped with its ink-black eyes, lay the horror’s mouth. It was a gaping, maw with the only solid items in this gelatinous terror: vicious teeth. Rows and rows of sharp, pointed teeth, hooked slightly backward and leading into the creature’s stomach that fed three individual hearts.
It was in these rows of nightmarish teeth that he had found it. Cutting it out, careful not to damage the rest of the creature, he had laid it before him and now he could not look away.
Before him lay a dental insertion. An implant. Effectively, it looked like it was a filling, much like a dentist would place over a rotting tooth.
A very small item in and of itself torn from the vicious maw of this monster, but it belied a deeper truth. It hinted at something far below and creeping around us that we were not aware of. It hinted at organization and sophistication that we were not aware of and had not documented nor accounted for…
He shivered as he thought about it.
Who or what had put that filling into what was obviously a deep-sea horror before him?
Someone or something had put it there. It meant that something had the intent, means and the ability to put it there. And the consciousness. It meant that the strange, occult pattern in this monsters forehead was likely a tattoo equivalent.
It meant that there was something civilized, organized and unknown out there.
“Forget space,” he shivered, whispering to himself and suddenly aware of how cold it was in that room, “We are not alone on our own planet.”
Another shiver ran down his spine. Where-oh-where did this current sweep the ocean depths from?
The autopsy–he had decided that the creature must have been conscious, so that made this not a dissection and actually an autopsy–was being done over a table at the back of the room. This basic facility had the floor running slightly down to a gutter where the blood could drain out of. Indeed, the creature’s inky black blood was dripping off the table and running down this drain.
He wondered where it drained, and suddenly he felt sick. Were there more of them out there? What did their civilization look like? Why had they never made contact with the rest of us living on the same planet?
He felt really sick. The room began to spin and he lurched toward the toilet…
He gasped upwards for air before going back down. Head-first in the mortuary toilet, his stomached convulsed a final push to evacuate his stomach. The creature is all just a brain, a stomach and a mouth with teeth, he thought, imagining the cold, dark primal hunger driving such a creature forward.
Sighing, he stood up, wiped his mouth and washed his face. He was stronger than this. This would make a whole book on its own.
Clenching his jaw, he pushed away from the sink and turned to walk back to the autopsy of the monster. Beast? Creature?
His mind was a mess as he pushed back the toilet door and stepped out into the morgue.
Tentacles wrapped around a vicious maw atop a scaled nightmare faced him. But it was standing erect on the rippling, slimy tentacles around its floating, black-inky eyes. All seventeen of them, all focussing directly on him. It was holding the remains of what he had carved up in the name of science.
He froze. The creature froze. And the sea outside paused, shadows lurking in its depths…
Then he cried out, stumbling forward to the creature. Only in hindsight did he wonder what he would have done if he had reached it? The creature shrieked–a high-pitched gurgle–as it grabbed it’s fallen, dissected comrade and leaped back to the small, twisted drain that all the inky-black blood had drained into.
Years later, he would still be trying to understand what he saw. But, in the darkest hours of the longest nights, he knew that what he thought he saw.
All that was and should never be, twisted into the slime that fills the darkest crevices of the deepest oceans and, sucked with it the evidence of its dead brethren. Unbelievable and incredible to watch, the man-sized gelatinous being contorted and slipped between the grates of the drain, pulling its falling brethren with its, like an octopus squeezing into the smallest of cracks between rocks.
And then it was gone. Down the drain, through the pipe and lord-knows-where?
But he knew. Yes, in his heart of hearts he knew where that drain led: the ocean. The dark, mysterious current-swept ocean just off the coast of the quaint, chill Blackpool Bay.
The sea had claimed its secret back and he was left with a haunting thought: Maybe they had never wanted to be found? Maybe they chose to remain secret?