The Ominous Ocean – Part I
By Patrick Kelleher
Leo stared out at the Irish coast. It was a beautiful place, he thought. It really was. And every day he counted himself lucky to live so close to it. There really was nothing like walking alongside that cavernous sea, believing utterly in its destruction and chaos.
He looked down at his dog, who was tugging on the lead, his tongue playfully hanging out of his mouth. Oscar was his name. Anna’s choice, of course. They had gotten the dog two years prior, back when they had still loved each other. But that had all changed now. With the greatest pain, he remembered the chilling argument they had had – how it had all culminated in those three simple words that had tumbled from Anna’s mouth. “I’m leaving you”.
It had been at that point that he had escaped to the beach with Oscar. It was just over an hour ago that it had happened. He dreaded going home because he couldn’t be sure if she would still be there.
The weather had been nice, but was now beginning to deteriorate. Ominous droplets fell randomly from above and splashed the damp sand. He watched as they seeped into the ground below. He would gladly go the same way if he could.
Darkness was approaching rapidly now, and sure enough, within time, the beach became deserted. The wind got stronger, the water more vicious. He could almost hear the menacing laughter of the waves as they crashed into the sand. They too wanted to devour him.
He looked up and across the large area of sand, and it was then that he realised he wasn’t alone after all. A figure was walking – limping, actually – across the sand. Its clothes were billowing in the rough air. Leo realised with a startling suddenness that they were in trouble. They were hurt.
“Excuse me! – Excuse me! Are you alright? Hello? Can you hear me? Miss?” He was standing a few feet behind the injured woman now, but she seemed to be oblivious to his presence. For some unknown reason, Leo felt threatened all of a sudden. Perhaps it was because he knew that whatever this was that was standing in front of him, there was no way it was completely human. He didn’t know how or why he knew this, but he just did. Oscar whined beside him. Leo quickly dismissed his childish thoughts and opened his mouth once more.
“Excuse me, ma’am? I just need to know that you’re alright. You’re limping-”
The woman – the thing – it stopped and slowly turned on the spot in an inhuman fashion. For a moment, through the semi-light, he thought he saw its face – and with that assumption came fear and dread. He realised with a gasp that the dark brown, still face he looked at was actually a wooden mask.
Leo wanted to get out of there. He knew for certain now that whatever this was, it could harm him. But those patterns on that wonderful mask – they were so alluring – so intriguing – that he couldn’t look away. All thoughts of Anna were truly gone from his mind now.
He didn’t realise the creature had moved, but he was aware that it was now so much closer to him. So close that the patterns on the mask were blurred and indistinct.
“Why are you wearing that mask?” Leo asked in childlike wonder.
“This mask represents what humanity is – A way to hide all that is true.” But Leo wasn’t registering what the creature was saying, because he was listening to that captivating, yet horrifying voice. It was high and musical, yet also shrill and repulsive. The words formed in such an unusual way that Leo realised that when it took the mask off – and it would take it off – that whatever was behind it would not be natural.
The creature raised its deathly white hands and gently placed them on the sides of Leo’s head. It ran its elongated and bony fingers through his hair. They felt icy on his scalp, but also right – they felt like those hands had been made to caress. They were so soft.
It withdrew its hands and raised them slowly to its mask. A clicking noise, and it came away from its face. It slowly lowered it. Leo sobbed. He cried with every cell in his body with the knowledge that this thing had touched him. Its face reminded him of the sea. Its cavernous and wide mouth was devoid of lips and teeth – it was just a massive, black, gaping hole. It had no nose and its eyes were two beetle like black dots.
The creature yet again grabbed his head – this time more forcefully – and clamped its mouth over Leo’s. For that moment, Leo was transported to a world of pleasure and innocence. And then something ebbed away from him. He closed his eyes.
The first thing he heard when he awoke was the sea. And then he remembered the creature, and Oscar. He opened his eyes and looked around him. He was lying on the sand in the pitch blackness. The sea continued to explode somewhere nearby. Bit by bit, the details of what had happened came to him. Every ounce of his body slowly awoke and screamed to the memory of the thing.
He frantically called Oscar’s name for several minutes, but a part of him knew that he was gone far away from whatever that thing was. Oscar was a smart dog; he could find his own way home.
He found his way back to the car and got in. He was shaking so badly that the seat too rattled under him. He put his head on the steering wheel and sobbed. The fear welled up inside of him as he realised the full severity of that creature.
“Oh God no!” He said aloud. He jammed the keys into the ignition and started the car. He drove away at full speed, determined to get away from there – believing that somehow, that would make everything alright.
And then he heard it. A laugh. A shrill, yet musical and repulsive slight chuckle from the back seat. He slowly turned his head. Horror burst from him as he looked at himself. In the back sat the creature, still dressed in its billowing clothes, but it had somehow taken Leo’s face. That cavernous mouth and the beady eyes were gone. He smiled with Leo’s mouth.
“Look in the mirror, Leo,” the shrill voice chuckled.
Leo slowly turned around and looked in the car mirror. Sure enough, the sight that greeted him was what he had expected. He now had a cavernous mouth, and two beady dots for eyes. The creature laughed hysterically as Leo screamed. They had swapped faces during that fatal kiss. The laughter and the scream seemed to mingle and ring in Leo’s ears for what felt like forever in that car.