I don’t remember how Eula and I ended up lab partners in freshman Zoology. She was a ‘special status’ student -- no, I don’t mean like the cripples back from ‘Nam -- something conferred on her by the Jesuit higher-ups at Creighton. Her farm-bred build, long hair, attractively filled out white blouse and knee-length skirt, was marred by an unsettling crooked eye. A pretty girl otherwise, she clearly wasn’t one of those vacuous blondes in college to find a husband -- besides she was a brunette. Sitting down at the lab bench, a thick stapled document slipped from her binder.
Picking it up, I read, “Changing Interpretations of the Werewolf. A comparison of S. Baring-Gould’s ‘The Book of Werewolves,’ M. Summers’ ‘The Werewolf,’ and L. Illis’ ‘On Porphyria and the Ætiology of Werewolves’ -- by Eula Grayson,”
“Here -- Sweet Pea,” I said, handing her back the paper. “Werewolves, ooooh...scary...Grrr! I’m Lon Chaney!” I said mockingly
“Jim, when you don’t know squat, just make like a clam, an’ we’ll get along just peachy.”
“Just in to the KMTV news desk...Missing A-dorm girls victims of Omaha werewolf!”
Her thumb and fingers closing together she replied: “The clam? I don’t see the clam...Like that creepy Marsh guy, spoutin’ off ’bout the ‘transcendent but unspeakable wisdom of the Elder Ones’ -- reckon he coulda done it -- ’nother boy what don’t know when to make like a bivalve. That’s a joke there, Jim.” Taking on the expression of a doting mother and pinching my cheek she added, “you can laugh -- yesss you can.”
I glared at her, but grudgingly respected her for meeting my sarcasm with disdain rather than tears.
* * *
Meeting a couple of days later to complete a lab report, she mentioned that Marsh had been expelled.
“Met him outside his residence... said he was headed home -- some coastal town in Massachusetts -- wantin’ me to come along. Told him weren’t no earthly chance of that. Flipped me his dorm-room key, he did, and said, ‘take anything you want, see you soon.’”
“Choice guy, kinda like Jim Morrison’s evil twin -- smelled like a lizard-king, too...leastways the lizard part.”
“Sure did. He’d corner me in the dining hall and ramble on about some far-out cosmic traveller trapped on the sea-bottom -- flattering me how I was healthier and smarter than other girls; them only fit as ‘psychic fodder,’ me to be the ‘vessel of its offspring.’ Like, no way man! Besides, I reckon that creature wasn’t no farther than his pants.”
“Yeah, sounds that way. So, did you check it out?”
“You know I can’t just wander into the men’s residence.”
“Well, Sweet Pea, I can get you in...”
* * *
I was climbing the stairs behind Eula, frankly entranced by the view, when some ditzy blonde chick I’d seen in English Lit came spastically careening down, blood oozing from her glassy bugged-out eyes, mumbling, ‘I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea...’”
“Wow man, some seriously bad trip! We’ll call the campus police,” I reassured Eula, who’d turned white as a ghost.
The call made, we reached Marsh’s door, to find it ajar. Scattered on the floor, what at first glance looked like a bunch of starfish, turned out to be star-shaped stones. Others remained stacked in a semi-circular interlocking enclosure from which the ground-glass specimen jar now laying on the floor had obviously been hastily withdrawn. What liquid remained bathed what appeared to be five or six eyeballs, each including a length of optic nerve. Cringing, I read a crumbling “United States Naval War College Collection, Newport, R.I.” label: “Spores with emerging germ tubes, identification tentative, recovery following detonation of depth charges, Innsmouth (MA) harbour. May 12, 1923.”
Somewhat recovered, Eula had been reading over my shoulder. Suddenly, forcing back a gag reflex, she pointed first to the jar and then to the stripped down bed and floor beside it, each bearing a greyish-white sphere on a shredded stalk. “These aren’t, but those...those are her eyes.” She staggered over and wrapped them up in a handkerchief.
“Sweet Pea, you shouldn’t stay here,” I said.
“Mercy mild, but it’s hot,” she said, utterly ignoring me and unbuttoning her blouse. “Unngh,” she grunted in a lascivious manner, “listen up Jim...I start doin’ anything stupid -- anything, get this,” she said, plucking one of the items from the jar, “get this the hell away from me, back in the jar, and surround it with the... with the stones. Mercy, but it’s hot.”
The stalked sphere having rested in her hand a moment, she began to slide her free hand over herself in a way I knew was wrong, but just the thought of -- I hesitated. Writhing she spoke in a husky tone, “The sea, the sea of stars, the sea of foam, it envelops me...oh, mercy, mercy, it’s froth washes over me, into me, his froth...his seed, promised I am, promised, oh! could I but see him...” It was enough, with one hand I wrestled it from her and threw it in the jar; with the other I slapped her hard, back and forth, snapping her out of her glazed expression. She fell to her knees and began to hiccough-cry. I followed her instructions. Between sobs she whispered, “Merciful Jesus, preserve me in my hour of temptation and have mercy on those who were weak,” and then began to chant “Pater noster, qui es in caelis...”
Some time later we cleared out, packing the jar in its stone jacket in an old ammunition box Marsh had left in the closet, the books and a couple of extra stones being relegated to a shopping bag. That night we -- wrung out as she was, the little trooper insisted on seeing it done -- went over on Dodge Street, and buried the box under where they were preparing to pour the foundation for the new First National Bank Center.
"Offerings to the Sea"
Copyright: © 2010 Georges Dodds
Published in strong competitors to The New Flesh like International Agrophysics and Estudos de Literatura Oral, Georges Dodds has until recently kept his weird writing under mouldy cerements. His recent genre activities include textual resurrection for a publisher of Gothic novels, unearthing and presenting in an e-library some thematic precursors of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes, translating early French science-fiction to English, and preparing a collection of American dime-novelist William Murray Graydon's earliest adventure stories. Georges and his 3-species family (4 with the goldfish), lives in a former bus garage, on the now relocated site of an18th century cemetery -- so far tilling the garden hasn't revealed its past.