Shadow of Atlantis

The story of Atlantis has long held a place in the minds of humanity, the mystery of whether or not it truly exists a burning question still unanswered. And if it does where is it, and what awaits us?
Perhaps finding it is not the wonderful discovery we believe it may be...

Cover art: https://matty17art.deviantart.com/art/ATLANTIS-297634862

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2. II: The Call

II
The Call

 

Since my recounting of that dreadful encounter, far beneath the waves, I have felt myself haunted. It is a curious pain within my body, a persistent ache that lasts even in my dreams and keeps me from sleep; my mind complains with it, and headaches have become a most common occurrence that even painkillers cannot deter. I feel as though I have both overslept and not slept at all, my eyes red and dry most days, yet other days I have only tears. Some mornings I wake sweating and short of breath, often unable to move; there have been days as of late where I feel under my skin a torturous itch as of countless creatures upon my skin.

Such symptoms have gradually grown in intensity day by day since the telling of that terrible tale, yet that is not all, for indeed it all started the night after all was written. I considered it a frightful figment of my imagination, conjured forth by such a vivid recollection of my experience, though as my horror has persisted and my mind lingers ever more on that faraway lost city I find myself in doubt; the images my mind created in the nightmarish slumber were too real, too close to what I saw beneath the waves. Of the grotesque beasts and their hybrid forms I dreamt, saw them as they pursued me, yet here they followed me still, even to the surface where I had found my salvation. I heard the crumpling metal of my submarine as they ripped it apart, the horrific hissing from their slavering mouths as they clambered inside, swarming toward me with murderous intent, unholy forms hungrily grasping me; their unnatural growths of claw and fang tore at me, opening deep wounds that bled boundlessly, goring me, pulling from me all the entrails they could grasp and spreading on the glass of my violated haven the very lifeblood that had once sustained me.

It was the first of such nightmares, and set me to waking in a frenzy of panic, leaping out of my bed, sheets trailing behind me as I hastily patrolled the halls of my home in search of some unseen intruder. My patrol had ended in the study where I stood over the preserved corpse of that most abominable creature I had prised from my scuppered sub; only in seeing it still encased, still lifeless, did I find my peace that night, yet as the days wore on and the nightmarish occurrences continued I found its presence less and less comforting. The final straw came when at the midnight hour, waking from a dreadful dream in which I fought one such creature in my very home, I found myself standing over the glass case with a key in the lock, moments from releasing the creature from its captivity; though it was dead I had started to doubt that such a horror could ever truly die, and feared that should it escape it would set upon me and fulfil its horrific purpose.

After that night I took the creature, trapped in the crystal casket, down below my house to the now never entered dock where my submarine awaited, scuppered and stripped, all parts of value long since discarded. In my mind clawed a desire to throw it to the salty waters where I would never see it again, yet reason suggested returning it to that domain would be folly and the best course of action was to destroy it completely; but how does one destroy a creature so abhorrent? I considered butchering the beast, dismembering it until nothing remained but a paste of unholy gore, yet still the fear of opening the case persisted. It was not until I looked upon the shell of my craft that I found my answer for, despite my disassembly, the engine remained intact.

This engine could, when not sufficiently cooled by the circulation of seawater, reach horrendously hellish temperatures, and I considered that nothing would be more fitting for this ocean devil than to commit its hateful form to the inferno. With that hideous horror set safely aside, far from the water’s edge and in clear view, I stepped into the oddly haunting shell of my forsaken craft and began cycling its power, working what remained until the engine roared into life, turbines turning about at speed, reaching their maximum capacity as I set all to the extreme; the heat built up quickly, the metal going beyond red-hot and appearing almost white. I jumped down with haste and hefted the glass case over my shoulder with all the strength I could muster, bringing it to the unbearable heat that already was burning the hairs from my arms. I was as close as I dared get when I threw the thing upon the fiery whirlwind of machinery, where it was quickly grabbed and torn apart. What small fragments of slimy gore escaped the cutting furnace were burnt to a crisp, and I reluctantly threw them back at the engine until every last remnant of the abomination was incinerated.

I washed myself thoroughly that night, afraid that touching even those few roasted pieces had somehow passed to me some freakish malady; by the time I finished my skin was red from such frantic rubbing, my hair wild and unkempt, yet I finally felt clean and dared hope that all the terrors and troubles I had faced since writing my recollections would cease. Indeed, they lessened for some nights, and my symptoms at waking were much reduced, but slowly they returned, and then hit me with a vengeance. I began to imagine that I was no longer alone in my home; the sensation that had first warned me of the abominations’ presence in the cursed city began to linger with me at all hours, no matter where in my house I went. The aches and itches continued relentlessly, and in my dreams I began to have queer sensations as of water on my skin, yet the skin did not feel my own.

One dreadful night came a most horrendous hallucination: my fingers had acquired a webbing between the digits, my skin taking on a mottling alike the flesh of that burned beast. Before it faded I even imagined that protrusions were forming beneath my body, threatening to split forth. I ascribed such vividness as there was to my recent destruction of the creature and the paranoia such an act had raised in me and found some comfort in the thoughts, yet the ever increasing terror did not abate. On a later night I believed I saw, standing over me, the very abomination I had condemned to the fires of my engine, and though it soon disappeared I was haunted that night by dread imaginings of it tearing into me with reckless hate, extracting from me all that could be consumed. Every evening after that I went to sleep with a pistol beneath my pillow.

Still the sensations would not leave me; I sought out therapists, yet without recounting all that had occurred beneath the waves – a story I was certain would see me committed – they could do naught to aid me. Instead I was forced to face the horrors myself; what friends remained could not help me, and as my apparent descent into madness grew more pronounced the last of them gave up on me. I took to my books alone for solace, yet always I found my mind wandering back to lost Atlantis and the abominations that dwelt there. It was such careless thoughts that brought on the most recent and terrible of my nightmares, for more and more I remembered the shadow and its marble arm; it had returned to me first when I recalled the temple in which I had rested, where the statues of the lost gods had stood and, later, disappeared. I remembered the oddness they had instilled in me when I saw them; how they appeared human and yet touched me with an energy altogether alien and threatening.

What power had been infused within the statues was ancient beyond all reckoning and could only, I was certain, be of the greatest evil. It was the only explanation my mind could offer as to the origins of the terrible denizens that hid in the dreadful city, for no force of good could conceive of them; certainly that ghastly shape that had pursued me and birthed such horrors as the one I had burned was not of holy origins, and I was thankful it remained trapped in its cursed lair, far from the world of mortal man where whatever diabolical designs it had could not be executed.

Yet soon even that thankful thought left me, for it became more and more apparent to me that it was not beyond expectation for another to find that cursed stone beneath the waves; indeed, the very agencies that had once employed me may have given some credence to my retelling and endeavoured to explore that area again. Perhaps, I considered, it was the opening of that dark, terrible passage that had awakened in me such nightmares as those I have encountered. The more this thought preyed upon me the less I slept, and now I go most weeks without resting for more than an hour; every other moment is dominated by restless wanderings, often down to the old dock, and when not there to the table upon which the creature and its glass prison had rested.

The itching has not stopped, the aches wracking my body as the fear torments my mind. I wonder what there is for me to do, for should things continue I shall soon be mad; the pistol beneath my pillow whispers to me sometimes, offering me an end, yet from further away comes another feeling, a more calming one that rests just outside my senses and so frustrates me with its distance. Perhaps, I wonder some nights when my books feel too heavy and my bedchamber too bright, Atlantis requires my return. Perhaps if I go back and see it is still undisturbed then my mind will at last be at ease, and I will know the creatures do not come for me as I sleep. Only then, the feeling suggests, will the madness end and my mind finally be at ease.

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