Jim Culver wandered along the wharf, stopping at an empty bench. A seagull walked cautiously towards him, taking two steps forward and one back, and then pecked at a discarded bag of fries which lay upon the cobblestones beside his feet. His attention switched to a white line chalked on the ground, and he followed it to a brick wall where it connected to another three lines and an arrow; the arrow pointed to a wide crack in the side of a warehouse. Returning to his bench with a parcel covered in sailcloth, he unwrapped it, discovering a sheaf of documents.
During pagan rites, Shub-Niggurath absorbs worthy cultists into her amorphous body and transforms them into gof’nn hupadgh Shub-Niggurath, the goat spawn. From the wildest corners of the earth, her primal brood, the dark young, emerge to overwhelm humanity.
He stared at the waves, mulling over these words and the hints which he had heard from the dead back in San Antonio. Eventually he succumbed to a kind of stupor and fell asleep. He dreamt of an insane wizard thousands of years ago in Atlantis; he also dreamt that the same wizard is still alive today, haunting an uncharted island.
“Any good?” said an old salt.
“Eh?” said a befuddled Jim.
“That trumpet of yours, any good I said, and can you carry a tune as well, boy?” Jim simply stared at the old salt, waiting for him to continue or go away. “Name’s Burdock, Captain Burdock of the S.S. Monterey. We’re steaming down to the Bermudas and need a willing hand. What d’ya say?”
Jim Culver stood up to address Captain Burdock:
“I’m a mighty fine trumpet player and a hard worker, boss,” he affected.
Burdock grinned. “You’re hired!”
Willis, the cabin boy, moved his token, jumping over one, two, three of Jim’s. He pumped his fist in the air. “I got ya, Mr. Culver!”
“Sure have, young man,” said Jim, and clapped the boy’s arm.
The S.S. Monterey’s deck lurched when she slid into a deep trough upon the stormy Caribbean Sea. Nets, which contained foodstuffs—tins and suchlike, slammed against the bulkhead. Harper stumbled forward into the galley. Jim suspected that Harper had been watching them for some time.
Harper lifted up Willis’ shirttail. “You championed the cabin boy yet, Jimmy, or made friends with the chink cook?”
“Screw you, Harper,” hissed Jim, and smacked at the arm which held onto Willis’ shirttail; Willis, his eyes rolling in terror of his tormentor, had not even tried to free himself from Harper’s grip. There followed a brief struggle between Jim and Harper. In the aftermath of the fight Harper’s forearm was locked in a half-nelson round Jim’s neck, sweat glistened on the arm’s skin; both men gasped with exhausted, stertorous breath.
“You leave Mr. Culver be!” cried Willis.
“I’m gonna break his fuckin’ fingers. Messin’ with my meat, who the hell d’ya think you are? Don’t ya know your place, nig—”
“HARPER!” shouted Captain Burdock, “Harper, get the hell outta here or I’ll have you tied to the mainmast and get Culver to lash you with the cat’. Would you like that, Harper?”
“No, Cap’n,” he said, and fled the galley, as did Willis.
“You alright, Culver?” asked Burdock.
“Yeah, I guess so,” he muttered, rubbing his neck. Jim said: “Thank you, boss.”
“I can’t show any favoritism to you, especially over a white fella,” said Burdock harshly, “even if he be scum like Harper; but I need you, Culver, and so long as you continue to work hard aboard the S.S Monterey you’re one of my crew, and no-one messes with my men.” Jim nodded. “Now,” he said, “we’ve sighted land and it ain’t supposed to be there! All hands on deck!”