31/01/2022 - Call of the Ocean
We get transfer students every once in a while, and most of them are alright, but we got this new guy at the turn of the year and he was a special case. His family had moved from a coastal town and come to settle down but he seemed incapable of doing so as he always looked on edge, like something was coming to get him. You could see the white of his eyes surrounding his irises clearly at every moment of the day. I thought that maybe he was a bit nervous of his new surroundings, so I tried to talk to him. Turns out doing that was a grave mistake.
He seemed normal at first when we talked; the only thing of note was his nasally voice. It was when we were not talking that I noticed something strange. He would infrequently mutter something to himself and whenever he did, he would start to shiver uncontrollably. I tried to ask him about it, thinking that he might be unwell or something, but, as soon as he heard my voice call to him, he brought it rapidly under control before brushing it off as nothing but a nervous tick. Rather than press him for answers, I continued to talk about normal things, hoping the answer would slip from his lips carelessly. It worked.
When we were talking about where he came from, I heard him mutter something about something needing to be done. My interest was piqued and I had to ask him what he meant by that. When I did, his eyes widened like nothing else. "Return," he said in a gave tone that sent a chill running down my spine. I could only stare at him, stunned not only at what he said, but also at the sense of foreboding that resided in his voice. It took me a long, long time to work up the courage to ask him about anything else, but eventually our conversation went back to normal subjects. What he said stuck in my head like craters on the moon however.
A few days later, the transfer student approached me after school. He talked to me about taking a trip to his home town. It felt a little awkward at the time, especially since I barely knew the guy, but I also knew that I was his only friend as far as I could tell and he said he'd buy me a ticket too. I didn't want to make him upset, so I took him up on his offer. We'd go for a weekend to chill out at his old place. Sounded cool to me.
What was not cool however was the fact that, when I went to his place in the city to pick him up for the train ride, his aunt and uncle were having a small argument with him. From what I overheard, they had seen him acting strange and they were very concerned that he would wander off to that town. The transfer student quietly left the building after saying that he'd just be down to the arcade with me. The moment the door slammed shut however, he told me that the two of us were set to go on our journey. I got a bit of cold feet however and I asked him if everything was alright, especially with the town. He shook his head and said that they were going a little crazy. I wasn't convinced, but I also did not want his tickets to go to waste, so I continued on with him.
Throughout the entire journey I kept an eye on him, watching to see if he'd do anything odd or strange. He looked at ease for most of the trip, but he would start murmuring under his breath infrequently. I had no idea what he was uttering as I couldn't hear him properly, but I had a hunch it had something to do with his comment about returning. To make matters worse, when we got close enough to the town that we could see it from the windows, he started twitching. While he wasn't twitching all the time, it happened enough for me to notice that it wasn't a one time cold chill running through his body. Every movement was unnatural and violent, like he was being pulled at by strings. My hairs stood on end throughout the entire journey as I watched him like a hawk.
I thought that maybe my things would turn to normal when I got off the train, but that didn't happen. When we got off at the train station, I noticed one of the staff at the station staring at me. He looked sickly with his skin slightly bluish in tint, but it was the eyes that shook my heart. Something about his beady black eyes pierced through to my soul. I tried to shake his stare by wasting time in the toilet, but he kept his eyes locked onto me regardless. He just would not stop. I wanted to confront him about it, but the transfer student ushered me further into the town. When we left the station, I checked back to see if the man was still looking at me. Sure enough he was still staring at me with those beady black eyes of his. I tried to ignore it, but I could still feel his stare burning at my flesh, even when I couldn't see him any more.
He was not the only one who had taken an interest in me. Others in the town would stare at me as the two of us walked on by. While the town looked warm and inviting, the townsfolk made me feel unwelcome and nervous. Every now and then, a pedestrian would stop dead in their tracks and just stare at me. I had no idea when this would happen, it just would without rhyme or reason. Whether they were across the street, on the same side, in their cars or even in buildings, it didn't matter. They would just stop whatever it was they were doing and stare at me as if I was some sort of outsider or freak. I couldn't take it for much longer and I asked him to skip the tour and take me to his place as soon as possible. When he asked why, I feigned a stomach ache.
This would be the only respite I got that weekend. I got to meet his parents. They were pleasant people and they welcomed me as if I was one of them. It went a long way to relaxing my nerves from my earlier experience. Regardless, me and the transfer student sat down and played games for a long, long time, long enough for me to forget a lot about happened previously. When the games came to a halt and we went to sleep however, things got worse.
I could see silhouettes looming behind the windows. Whenever I picked my head up to look at them, they would walk away, but it would not be long before another blacked out soul would come around. I drew the curtains to block them out but it didn't work. I could still see their shadows behind the curtains thanks to the light from outside. I could also hear inhuman noises and inexplicable shrieks coming from the night air. Something was amiss. I started to feel smaller and smaller and there was no shaking that feeling as thoughts of me being in danger wreaked havoc on my mind. What a horrible night it was.
I didn't wake up until midday. That was the only indicator that I had stayed awake far too long last night. It turned out to help me in the end, for what happened on that second night unsettled my soul. He decided to show me more of the town and I foolishly agreed. More people would stare at me as we walked through the streets. I also noticed that some people looked a little less than human. The sickly pale blue skin was spreading like a virus, everyone's eyes were getting just a bit too large to be normal and everyone started burying their hands deep in their pockets. A closer look at one of the individuals told me that their hands were starting to look more like claws.
I couldn't hold it in any longer. I had to ask the transfer student what was up with this place, what was up with the people and why they couldn't stop staring at me. He refused to answer. On the contrary, it looked like he could not answer. His eyes would widen in the same way that the other people's eyes did when they stared at me. He would stammer for a short while too, as if he was trying to answer my question, but something was controlling him, preventing him from answering. Then it would pass; he would return to something resembling normal, but he would try to talk about something else. No matter how hard I pressed him for answers about the towns folk and their strange behaviour, he wouldn't give me any.
When I asked about the beach however, he was more than happy to take me there. It looked beautiful and you could see for miles on end. I could also see some of the townsfolk who were sprinkled across the beach staring at me. He told me a little about the history of the beach, which would have been relaxing if he didn't occasionally start mumbling about how everyone must "return" to "it." Every time he mentioned "it," it made my skin crawl. I had no idea what he was on about and I still don't know now. Whatever it was, I didn't like it.
We spent quite some time wandering around, exploring places such as the arcade, the book store and we even took a closer look at the lighthouse. Time flew by so fast that the sun started setting, signalling that it was time to go home and play some games before resting for the night. Only that was not to happen this time. Instead we went back to the beach. When we got there, he told me to go and get in the ocean. I refused; I was still in my regular clothes and I didn't bring a towel or a change of clothes with me. There was simply no way that was happening.
That's when his friendly demeanour vanished. He told me to get in the water, this time forcefully. I asked why and he could only say that we had to " return from whence we came." I noticed that his skin had turned slightly blue and his hand dug into my shoulders harshly. While I was in shock at this discovery, he tried to push me closer towards the waters and I immediately started fighting back. As I tried to push him off me, I noticed that something had happened to his hands. His fingers had gotten longer and there was a new layer of skin between his fingers that was translucent. On top of that, his nails had become abnormally sharp. There was no time to wonder what could have caused this however as the sensation of danger was now very real. I shook him off. An ear piercing screech followed, a sound no human could make. It made my blood run cold for a moment, but seeing the transfer student open his mouth and make that noise made me tremble in fear. I let my instincts take over. I ran away as fast as my legs would take me.
Alone and wandering the streets, I could not escape the gaze of the townsfolk. There were even more of them than when I got out for the first time. The entire town looked like it was on pause when I walked through it. Nothing but big black eyes latched onto me for miles on end. Then I stopped. Then one of them started to walk towards me. I turned around. Another one was closing in on me. I spun my head around and there were so many of them creeping out of the alleys, leaving their cars, dropping whatever was in their hands, just to start slowly advancing on me. My mind was screaming at me that there was danger around every turn. I already knew that I was not welcome when I came here, but this felt surreal. What they wanted to do, I had no clue. All I could think about was getting out of that town to safety. I had to get to the train station.
I was turned around as soon as I got there. The station was closed. Staff lined the entrance, locking onto me like and tracking my every movement like a predator on its prey. I did not want to get any closer to them, talk to them or even breathe the same air as them, but they had other plans. They started advancing. I turned around and went back to the town. Maybe I would be able to rent a hotel room and that would keep the townsfolk at bay.
It was not to be. The moment I got into one of the hotels, I was greeted by the same stares that followed me around town. I tried another hotel and got the same thing. Then another and another and another. Whenever I left the hotels, I could see swarms of people coming towards me. I could not escape. I wanted it to stop. I didn't want them coming close to me at all; my instincts were screaming at me to avoid them at all costs. I listened to them, steering clear from them whenever they emerged. Then they started spilling out of their homes. Every time I heard a door latch go off, I knew that another one of those strange townsfolk would emerge and start following me. Even when the sun settled down past the horizon, they still continued to roll out onto the streets. I kept running.
When the sun disappeared completely, shrouding the streets in darkness, I had something new to worry about. Where would I sleep for the night? There was no way I could return to the transfer student's place. Chances are the transfer student or his parents would be there and I had no idea what would happen to me if I went there. I didn't want to find out either. I didn't want to sleep on the streets at all. I had no idea what any of the people would do to me if I slept outside and I didn't want to know. The only way to stay safe I thought would be to stay awake and avoid those people like the plague.
Truly that was the worst experience. I dearly wanted the sunlight to return fast; the darkness enshrouded the townsfolk and kept them hidden from me. They were everywhere at night, stalking the streets and roaming the roads, and I could hear their noises ringing out from all over the town. They would let out guttural groans towards each other as if it was some form of communication. As soon as I saw a silhouette underneath a lamp post, I would turn the other way and dash at top speed. The alleyways that I would dart into every now and then sent anxiety flowing through my veins. I knew that they were a huge risk, but it was a price I was willing to pay to afford myself at least a sense of safety.
My luck ran out. I was confronted by one of the strangers. They grabbed me as I tried to leave one of the alleyways. I yelped as soon as they grabbed me and I felt my heart fall through the Earth when I failed to break free. They grabbed me by the neck and dragged me along with them. I should have known where they were dragging me, but at the time I was in such a panic that I couldn't even fathom what was happening to me. I yelled at the top of my lungs, hoping someone else would help me out, but that help never came. Helplessness settled in alongside my tiredness from running around the streets all night and I eventually stopped struggling.
They dragged me back to the beach. It didn't look nearly as inviting at night, especially not with all these people standing around. With their black beady eyes and malformed hands. The ambient light showed me something else; other people were being dragged into the ocean. They would be pushed further and further into the murky depths until their heads were fully submerged. Moments later they would return, but something under the waters had caused them to act differently. They started to behave like the townspeople. I was overwhelmed with an intense sense of dread; eventually my turn would come and I would become one with them. Waiting for this to happen filled my heart and soul with despair. Sure enough, my turn eventually came up. I was dragged up to the waterline. I felt completely doomed and hopeless as the fin handed person dragged me up.
Right before I could be submerged, the sea began to move and an otherworldly roar could be heard from the far reaches of the ocean. It gave me an immediate headache as soon as it hit my eardrums. I had to shut out the noise, it was that loud The thing which had grabbed me suddenly let go and I used the opportunity to clasp my ears shut. I wanted to run away so bad, but the noise had paralysed me with pain and fear. I had to know what it was. I looked over the ocean.
The sky was moving. It looked like nothing was there, but I swear that something was there; stars would disappear from the night sky as if something was moving across it. Then it roared again. It came from the void in the sky, I was positive. It was huge, gigantic, incomprehensibly large, so large that it etched an indelible mark on my mind. The darkness obscured its true shape however. I could not make out any details. I had no idea what I was looking at and that terrified me more than anything else.
Whatever it was, it also had a hypnotic effect on the townsfolk. I watched them drop everything and start walking into the sea. It wasn't just people from the beach that heeded the call from whatever it was out there; people from the town seeped out of the streets and continued walking through the beach, straight into the sea. What was even stranger was that I might as well not have even existed; everyone just walked right by me like I was a roadside billboard. Those that knocked into me just continued on as if nothing happened. Whatever it was that was out there, it had a power over them that I could not hope to understand, a power that none of them could resist.
The longer I looked at whatever it was over the sea, the stronger my headache became. It was as if my mind was warning me that I shouldn't be seeing what I was seeing. I had to leave, and fast.
The streets were devoid of activity. Some cars were still on the streets, their engines still rumbling after being abandoned. Houses had their front doors left open from their residents vacating in a hurry. All sorts of items had been dropped on the pavements; newspapers, beer bottles, shopping bags and more were littered everywhere, but most worryingly would be the odd townsfolk, with their odd hands and horrible groaning, still wandering towards the beach to be dragged down by the waves. I made sure not to go near them, touch them or even acknowledge their presence. I just kept on walking by in silence, hoping that they wouldn't snap out of it and drag me back to the shore.
Relief crashed into me like a tsunami wave when I made my way back to the transfer student's apartment without incident. That quickly turned to alarm as soon as I saw him exit the apartment. His transformation had become much more vile. His eyes had gotten much larger and they were stretching along the side of his face so that his eyes appeared on the side of his head like a fish. His hands barely had anything in common with a human hand any more. His mouth had become malformed and he could no longer utter anything resembling human speech. He made noises but I could not even make out anything; It was all just noise. Just like the rest however, he walked on towards the sea and I let him go in silence. As soon as he wandered out of earshot, I closed the door, locked myself inside and ran to the bedroom. I made sure to keep a close eye on the window just in case someone else started to stare at me like what happened earlier. My heart would race and my body would shudder the moment I saw a silhouette emerge from behind the curtains. I did not care what was happening to the people any more. I cared only for my life at that point. I kept looking until I could look no more.
Waking up felt surreal. The transfer student was nowhere to be seen. When I got out and looked over the town, I was able to see just how derelict everything became. Not a single soul could be seen anywhere in the streets. Stores which should have opened hours ago remained shuttered up and closed and there was absolutely no sound whatever. I could not even hear the breeze blowing. The place was devoid of all life. I made my way to the station and that too was virtually a barren wasteland. The train schedule was still operating however, and that meant a way out of the cursed town. If there was one thing I was happy to see come the end of that weekend, it was the train to take me back home.
Even now I struggle to think of what I saw that night. What was in the water that could transform the people into those creatures? I have no idea. But by far the worst part to think about is whatever it was that was out there in the waters. Nothing on Earth could match its size. It's still intimidating just to think of how huge it was. It's roar was like nothing else too. No animal, no matter how big or small, had a roar quite like it. The hypnotic effect dragged people for miles and miles on end as if it was a magnet and they were metal. Once they heard it, they were one with it. Back when I was on the train out of there, I couldn't stop thinking that I had seen something that I was not meant to see, something that I, or humanity as a whole for that matter, was never meant to stumble upon. I still think that now and that scares me like nothing else.