Short Story
             Old Dikky and the Sea Things
                                                  By Morgan Duchesney


  As a child I always feared the sea, especially at low tide when the rocks and
weeds were stripped of their aqueous shroud.  Perhaps the cause was a story
I had read about a Chinese boy who caused a tsunami by swallowing the
ocean and suddenly disgorging it.  While bathing or beach combing, I would
regularly scan the horizon for giant waves that never arrived as if I was in
Japan or some earthquake prone local.  I still feel vestiges of this odd
suggestibility in the presence of ocean.  Now I have a darker reason to loathe
seascapes and marine environs, with their salty tang and rotting kelp. I’ve
seen the dead glide their clammy limbs through the frosty waves.

  I saw Old Dikky last night while I picked my way over the grounded ice flows
and slippery stones of a frozen beach illumed by a dead-faced Walpurgis
moon.  A casual seaward glance left me transfixed by the sight of a pale figure
clinging to the local’s favourite diving rock.  My first impulse was to run in
abject panic because I recognised the cruel spray-whipped face with its bald
pate and straggling white beard.  Here was the resurrected lich of childish
dread.

  Mastering my qualms, I slipped behind a large ice floe to surveil this bizarre
sight.  While the icy waves and frozen sea spray obscured the pale swimmer’s
face, I managed to perceive the face of Old Dikky, deceased bogey man and
man of general horror.  The cold bright moon suffused the beach scene with
sufficient illumination to effect this identification and his sudden landward gaze
lanced my guts with a jolt of adrenaline.  However, he wasn’t seeing me, but
was instead, staring up at the beetling cliff at the edge of his long-abandoned
farmstead.  I followed his gaze upward and upon looking back, observed a
circle of ripples where Old Dikky had formerly been.

  How could a “man” survive immersion in a winter ocean whose summer
temperatures discouraged all but the hardiest bathers?  Beyond this, where
had he gone after he slipped beneath the waves?  I am unashamed in
admitting that I never once considered reporting this event until much later
since I was ill-prepared to explain such an unlikely occurrence to the stolid
authorities.  The ithyc appearance of Old Dikky’s visible frame filled me with a
primal revulsion.  His eyes bulged fishily and he seemed to have slits or cuts
on the side of his neck.  He had gripped the slippery stone with flat, clawed
hands that appeared to be webbed.

  During my frequent childhood visits to my grandfather’s home in Point Anne,
I came to share the local children’s fear and disgust of an old man named Old
Dikky.  We didn’t know his last name and we did our best to ensure that he
never learned ours.  The official story was that Old Dikky and his extensive
livestock holdings had perished in a roaring conflagration that consumed his
seaside farmstead in what was widely-considered an act of mercy for those ill-
treated beasts.  Few tears fell over the loss of this brutal man who delighted in
his reputation as a dangerous and ill-tempered.

  My Aunt Ginny catechized me in the pagan mythology, superstitions and
fairy tales dear to our Celtic ancestors.  Many were the joyful days I spent
wandering the seaside woods with Ginny as she repeated ancient legends
and portrayed the dark toadstool patterns as fairy circles awaiting mystical
moonlight ceremonies of dancing and spell-weaving.  My fertile child’s mind
eagerly absorbed these lessons and inspired my lifetime taste for mythology
and macabre literature.  My feverish brain in slumber and awareness, feasted
on the wordscapes of dark visionaries like Poe, Blackwood and the masterful
H.P. Lovecraft.  While I was often frustrated that my dreams did not transport
me to magical spheres, I, like Charles Lamb; faithfully recorded my stunted
visions for future use. As he wrote:

  The poverty of my dreams mortifies me…Methought I was upon the ocean
billows at some sea nuptials, riding and mounted high, with the customary
train sounding their conchs before me, ….An old gentleman, a friend of mine,
and a humorist, used to carry this notion so far, that when he saw any stripling
of his acquaintance ambitious of becoming a poet, his first question would
be,         -- "Young man, what sort of dreams have you?”

  While my Aunt Ginny was no old gentlemen, she taught me about Arthur
Machen’s little people whose secret existence under the Welsh hills filled the
country people with horror.  They were thought to be diffident, potent but
jealous guardians of their dark privacy.  I saw their burrow entrances in the
roots of every wind-killed spruce and heard their scratchy voices in the sound
of the whipping evergreen boughs.

  Looking back, I wish I had never heard of Point Anne beside the cold sea or
strode along its low, crumbling cliffs and misty shore.  I haven’t visited the
place in 20 years and I still have an almost phobic reaction to marine environs
and the smell of salt water and rotting seaweed.  Had I known what lurked
under Old Dikky’s seaside farm, I would have done nearly anything to avoid
accompanying my family on out frequent visits.  Now that I have seen what the
sea may hide, I have good reason to avoid swimming and riding in boats.  I
have seen the children of Tooloo and they may have seen me, I must not give
them a chance to claim me as a denizen of their aqueous world of wondrous
terror and alienage.  I have learned about the protective symbols and am
never without these guardian talismans.

  Classroom readings of Hardy Boys adventures had inspired me to play the
amateur sleuth.  I developed the eccentric habit of spying on the odder
denizens of our village and imagining them engaged in myriad crimes and
sinister plots.  My sleuthing extended to systematic surveillance of Old Dikky,
the oddest of the odd and the only truly dangerous person on the area.  His
one saving grace was his extreme fondness for cats, and his property was
fairly overrun with lithe, leaping specimens of these graceful felines.  
Thankfully faithless, the cats never gave away my spying presence, as might
a loyal dog.  Old Dikky was literally loathed by dogs and his occasional canine
assassination did not endear him to local dog owners.

  My research, espionage and esoteric reading had convinced me the Old
Dikky had long trafficked with a tribe of marine beings of strange aspect and
marvellous power.  These fish frog creatures inhabited coastal nests or
colonies all over the seven seas but usually avoided contact with humanity
more out of indifference that hostility.  That is not to say that they were
friendly or well-disposed to people.  Maritime history includes occasional
subtle  references to alliances between the sea things and depraved humans
convinced that the creatures could link to outer spheres of power and wonder
and even confer upon them immortality of a sort.  No one knew when Old
Dikky had first encountered the fish frogs but he was known to enjoy fine
fishing and lobstering when the sea seemed devoid of life and the other
fishermen went begging.  This odd good fortune was the source of great
resentment and suspicion among Old Dikky’s peers.  As well, he was known to
purchase goods with old silver coins of French and Spanish vintage from a
rumoured cache of treasure having spilled from an 18th century French pay
ship en route to the great fortress of Louisbourg farther down the jagged
coast.  Regardless, the mystery man was silent on the source of his gleaming
lucre.  Cape Breton’s rugged, sea-lashed coast had claimed hundreds of
vessels over the 400 years of recent European domination and doubtless the
sturdy longboats of the earlier Norsemen had also felt the hungry teeth of
predatory rocks during those bold ventures.

  Old Dikky didn’t die of natural causes although it was natural that he was to
die at the hands of his neighbours.  He was killed and burned by the boldest
of his sea-tempered fisherman peers who believed my tale of terror and
determined that the man should no longer walk among them.  With me as their
guide, they invaded the warren of musty crypts under the cliff top farm house.  
What we found was such an affront to sanity and normalcy that Old Dikky’s
extirpation became the solemn and natural duty of sane men.  Too many
children had vanished during the cold summer of 1982 and my discovery of
the bone cache at the cliff base below Old Dikky’s cottage sealed his fate.  
The sea things remembered that they like human sacrifices and Old Diky had
reaped the rewards of providing tender young lives to his repellent masters
for unnameable rites.  The young bones were found to have been cut cleanly
as if by razor sharp instruments like slimy teeth and lobsteresque nippers.

  It was my nocturnal habit to watch the moon rays dancing on the sea waves
while perched on a rocky platform set back from the sand where I could spy
unobserved.  I was wont to seek for odd sights and that night I was not
disappointed.  I saw a bizarre flash of light emanating from what appeared to
be a door in the cliff base below Old Dikky’s beetling farm.  Sensing a great
discovery, I instantly dropped for cover below my boulder and continued to
observe as a huge shape of blackest glistening onyx accompanied by the
most horrific dead fish corpse stench my protesting nostrils had ever
suffered.  My survival instinct kicked into gear and I know I was in the
presence of mortal peril not to be challenged or resisted.  It was nightmare
and my senses screamed for quiet as the quivering jellied monstrosity slid
across the beach with dozens of snaky tentacles snapping nastily at the clean
air.  Its slimy black slug trail ended at the water’s edge as the thing slid
greasily into the lapping waves.  My esoteric reading told me that I had just
escaped contact with a Shoggoth although I thought these things had never
made their lumbering way out of the ocean where they served the sea things
in various military and building capacities.  The sea things had brought the
slavish and mentally suggestible Shoggoths with them from their home planet.  
Shoggoths could mimic any shape, lift progidous weights and commit fatal
violence through the smothering, acidic absorption   of living creatures.  Their
tell-tale stench and the swirling colors that danced across their jetty mass
were especially evil since that had no equal on earth.  While not consciously
hostile to humans, Shoggoths were nevertheless highly-unpredictable and
mindlessly predatory.  They figured prominently in much of the witch legendry
of Western Europe, and allusions to their presence were particularly common
in the animistic legendry of the darker Druidic sects.

  Later that summer I was to witness the horror of my Uncle Adrian being
taken by a Shoggoth while we gathered flat ballast stones on the uneven
beach.  I was hanging back, daydreaming as usual when that horrible stench
polluted the fresh sea air of late evening.  The filthy thing emerged from a fold
in the crumbing sandstone cliff and slid greasily up on Adrian, engulfing him in
its sulphuric innards before retreating with shocking velocity to its stony lair.  
Before the thing vanished, I saw Adrian’s features reproduced on the
Shoggoth’s oily black skin.  I hugged the gritty rock in a shock of horror and
revulsion and waited an eternity for my limbs to stop shaking enough that I
might crawl and then run for what safety there might be on the cliff top.

  I had learned much in my research trips to the great university at Halifax.  
The sea things were not of terrain origin, having come originally from a huge
wet planet beyond the curved rim of our galaxy.  They brought unhuman
sensibilities, odd physical laws and the depraved worship of an unspeakably
obscene diety called Tooloo or Thulu, as the Inuit called it.  Over the last
80,000 years, the sea things had gradually built and occupied a vast network
of sea floor metropolis at the edge of steep continental slopes in coastal
areas around the globe.  They had always existed unknown to the general run
of humanity but were intimate with scattered covens of evil acolytes and
devotees of Tooloo, whose high priests they were.  Tooloo himself was
represented in small idols as a monstrous humanoid squid dragon with long
weaving tentacle in lieu of a face and black hell holes for eyes.  To see him
was death and the sea things reserved direct contact for themselves.

  No one knew when Old Dikky had first connected with the sea things and
started the local coven of Tooloo but by the time of his nasty death he was
quite far gone and had even begun to display ichthyic and Bactrian changes
of a most repulsive sort.  Theses metamorphic changes came to him, in spite
his having human parents; mainly because he had participated in the deepest
rites and allowed the elder sea things to ply their transformative alchemy on
his human clay.  The price of extreme longevity of ultimate immortality was
varying degrees of physical transformation and the attendant difficulties of
hiding these changes from one’s neighbours.  Eventually, he would become
one with the sea things and lose knowledge of his former self.

  Old Dikky had severe difficulty hiding his changes in our small village during
the period prior to his death.  His elongated feet, bulging eyes and wrinkled,
gilly neck were impossible to miss.  Now they may be serving him well, if
legends of the resurrected dead among Tooloo’s children are accurate.  Old
Dikky is likely treading the vast aqueous ways of his scaly brethren since I had
guided an armed group of fisherman in to Old Dikky’s house and crypts with
the express purpose of either forcing an explanation from him or wiping him
and his evil from the earth.  As the guide, I had previously witnessed the full
spectrum of horrors within his dark caverns.  Only sexual violence was absent
from the offences worked on the pale young bodies suspended from rusty
hooks and festooned with myriad bubbling tubes and wires connected to odd-
colored globes and pulsating electrical devices of strange aspect.  The colors
were impossible to describe but the shock and despair in those young eyes
haunts me still.




                            
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