This is a translation of a previous story published on this blog.
“There are three type of terror: gross-out, horror and terror.”
Fire. The pastel-looking water of the lagoon reflected a blaze of colours. It was the only moment of the entire day, or better, the whole week, in which beauty unfolded in all her majesty. And it lasts precisely the time to cross the bridge that links the Most Serene City of Venice to the mainland. The Bridge of Liberty, it’s called. Indeed, comfortably sitting on a blu-electric seat of the fast regional train 2247 (the chair had to be on the left side of the train, following its direction), you could feel a full sensation of freedom watching the sunset become dusk and then darkness.
Silence is a vital factor in living such a moment. Inner silence. Because the 19:12 train, full of people, didn’t allow to feel absolute silence. By the open window over my seat, I could hear the train rattle creating a white sound that softened the chatting of the people near me. Focusing on that rhymed sound and the warm brightness of the sunset, you could reach a trans-state or maybe just drowsiness, but the result is quite the same: in some way, it soothes the fatigue of the entire day.
The darkness surrounded the train quickly, and my attention shifted from the window to the Kindle in my bag. I hadn’t the mental straightness to read something that echoed my everyday studies. Orientalism by Said should be the more appropriate choice: the percentage below on the left side of the screen showed 21%. Not bad, I thought. I’m used to starting more books simultaneously and reading them in parallel. 32% … significant percentage for Danse Macabre by S. King. Danse Macabre is not a novel but an essay. A horror essay. Have you ever asked yourself why someone should watch a horror movie o read a horror book? Why, instead of running away from it, have you been attracted? It seems like we are just stuck in a sick perversion of pleasure when we read, for instance, that a serial killer rips a young woman. King asks himself these questions in the essay, and although I was just at the beginning of the book, I already had some ideas about the answers.
I was interrupted by the soft deceleration of the train: we were arriving at Mestre station, an intermediate stage between Venice and Padua. The night outside gained my attention again. Although still far away, the neon lights of the station cast the long shadows of the poles and wires that provide energy to the train’s engine on the concrete walls.
I snatched an elusive movement coming from the tail of the train. I detect it again a bit more distant, almost six rails from the train. A shadow glided effortlessly between the tracks. It moved strangely, its speed was neither a walk nor a run: waving and without a standard posture in its progress. Now it was at the minimum distance from my position but still too far to acknowledge its shape. The train started to move again to reach the station, but I kept my eyes on that strange creature. I grasped a few seconds more of its movements by the slim chick between my seat and the window behind me, and then it disappeared in the darkness.
The train had now arrived at the station of Mestre, where most of the commuters would get off, letting my cabin almost empty. There were maybe five people left; three of them were for sure still in the carriage: two rows of seats in front of me, a boy and a girl acting like in soft-porn series and a white-collar man showing off his new Bluetooth earphone while talking in a pretty annoying way about money cost and quantitative easing, to someone who probably didn’t care about it. Quite an ordinary day.
The train was about to leave; it would still take 20 minutes to arrive in Padua. I was already returning to my thoughts when suddenly, a snap came from the tail of the carriage, awakening my attention again.
Someone reached the train a moment after the doors had been closed but was still in time to push the button to force the automatic lock. The doors opened and closed. I could not see who had entered the cabin, but I heard him walking through the corridor. He trailed one leg, and he moved slowly towards my position. His arrival was preceded by a stinging smell of rottenness and saltiness. He exhaled a miasma that spoiled and contaminated the surrounding air. He passed me and sat in one of the four accessible seats next to me in the opposite direction to the motion of the train. He wore an oversized sweater and frayed trousers that covered his feet. His head, hidden behind the sweater’s hood, was leaning against the window. I stared at him as I often do because of my morbid curiosity. He probably noticed it and suddenly turned to me and looked me in the eyes.
It was not so much his face that shocked me, albeit almost devoid of human features: the skin flaky and deformed with a greenish pallor. Not his face, but his eyes aroused in me the most profound horror I had ever felt. The dark pupil was not surrounded by the iris, and the ciliary body was almost the same colour. Fish eyes that hid a terrible secret. Magnetic eyes gave me a series of frightening images almost telepathically. Towers and spires of a submerged world rose, twisted and monstrous from a sunken city.
The architecture did not resemble anything existing on earth. The proportions and the shapes were unnatural, similar to tumour growths, and they created buildings that interpenetrated each other. And then the cries, countless cries that rose from big squares crowded with deformed beings, cries that praised something. Litany of a forgotten people for forgotten gods. More like fish than men, the beings moved circularly around a colossal tangle of basaltic spirals that formed a kind of crux ansata. From the invocations that the monstrous beings uttered addressed to it, it could be assumed that it was some sort of altar (only after committing to numerous research and surveys at the Marciana Library in Venice I found an ancient manuscript belonging to an Arab philosopher. His name was Abdul Alhazred, also known as the Mad Arab. The book called Al-Azif, translated into the western language as the Necronomicon, described the crux ansata not as a mere symbol but as a seal. Whether this seal had a protective function against those who sealed it or if, on the other hand, it was used to constipate someone or something, it was not known).
Suddenly I revived from that awful visions, facing head-to-head with that sickly creature. I couldn’t move; my body was numb and did not answer my commands. It was a terrible sensation; at that moment, fear possessed me. That situation lasted a few very long seconds, and then the creature moved its eyes from me and breathed at me.
The smell of rotten fish hit my nose, making me terrified and unable to react. The creature stood up and went towards the exit of the cabin, willing to get off at the next stop and the same stop I should get off at.
A lump squeezed my throat; anyone in the cabin seemed aware of what had just happened. “What should I do now? Telling someone what happened? Chase it? And then what? Kill it, maybe? How could you even think of killing such a creature… it kept me in its power for half an hour just with its sight. No, I couldn’t follow it, and no one would believe me”. It remained only one solution. Once the speaker announced the upcoming at the station, I stood up and went toward the opposite exit of the cabin. I wanted to get as far away as possible from that creature.
Perhaps you will think me a coward, but I didn’t regret it then, and I don’t regret it now. Since then, I didn’t see that creature anymore or a similar one, yet every time I went close to the sea for a holiday with my friends or even afterwards when I simply neared that huge water surface, it grew in me a feeling of revulsion and nausea. Very soon, only the idea of that caused disgust and then dread in me. Over the years spent, I moved farther and farther away to a higher location: some sort of self-preservation instinct arose in me and forced me to flee the sea.
Thirty years had passed since that dreadful encounter; at that moment, the limited news I could get in the lonely shelter where I had escaped shocked me. The sea rose up: an exceptional tide struck all the shores of the world, letting, as it flowed down, a countless horde of fish-men. They were an amphibious species never seen before, intelligent and with mental powers able to subjugate weak minds. I knew those beings very well. Moved by ruthless hate, they swept away all the main coastline cities like a storm. Then, going up the rivers, they infiltrated the river cities, quickly capturing them. More than half of the human population was slaughtered. Only the cities and the fortress embedded in the mountains were left to resist the Green Flood (in this way, what remained of the media, called the invaders that came from the sea). Here the last bulwark of humankind prepared itself to hold the assault of the abyss. Tempered by the harsh climate of the mountains, these men and women could resist better than everyone else, both physically and mentally, to the Green Flood. The hope of humankind was as feeble as the flame of a hearth battered by the cold winter wind.
But the enemy did not yet unleash its most formidable and dreadful weapon. In the depths of the abyss, hidden and sealed, dwelt the most terrifying offspring that had ever set foot on this earth. The lineage of the Great Old Ones, of Cthulhu the Great Priest, of Bokrug the Great Water Lizard, of Ghisguth the Sound of the Abyss, and of Shathak the Death Reborn, of Zoth-Ommog Who dwells in the Abyss and many others. All of them waiting to be awake by the screams and blood of the holocausts performed by their worshipers, the creatures of the Green Flood.