Innsmouth Horror, 4

Patrice pulled closed the General Store’s door, and began thumbing through the thick book which was given her by Ursula; apparently it was a play: The King in Yellow. “This is the most confounded nonsense!” She squinted at the print which had odd symbols instead of letters and the etchings, they were simply childish scribbles. Patrice held the book closer to her nose, almost covering her eyes so that she could barely see where she was walking and, consequently, didn’t notice anyone else… she bumped into someone. “Oh, I’m sorry. I do beg your pardon.”

The figure wore a dun coloured, horsehair cloak. He stared glassily at Patrice’s book. Silence; she laughed nervously.

Patrice noticed a dilapidated wooden sign, “Welcome to the Black Cave.” She wondered: “Are you meant to be some kind of troglodyte?”

He snapped to attention, as if a stage hypnotist had clicked his fingers. The cultist lunged at Patrice, trying to snatch the book. “I must have it!” he rasped. Patrice was still holding the book up high, perched upon her chest, when the cultist made a grab for it; however, possibly because of her recent encounter with the salacious sub-editor at the Arkham Advertiser, she misinterpreted his intent, believing he was trying to “cop a feel.” Smartly, she stepped backward, and the cultist performed a comic sweep with his arms in thin air. Rage burned inside her mind, “How dare he?” She walloped her violin between the top of his thighs; he jerked forward, emitting an animal-like whimper. His contorted face was only an inch from Patrice’s, a gust of bad breath—pork and beans—blew and dappled into her eyes. The cultist collapsed to the ground, cracking his head on a rock as he fell.

She reached out to the prone man, but quickly withdrew her hand. “Sir, I say, sir. Are you all right?” The hem of his cloak had ridden up revealing thick calf muscles covered in a fur-like shock of black hair. Patrice had a flashback: Fraser’s Preparatory School for Young Ladies, herself and Julie Sparks under the bed covers with a torch, giggling over a copy of Men’s Health.

“Sparky” pointed out the over-developed leg muscles of a young athlete. “Hey, Pattie, you know why his muscles are so fat, don’t you?”

“Well, not really, no—lots of exercise?”

“Silly! They say it’s from doing you know what.”

Patrice stood outside the mouth of the Black Cave, she was thirty-three years old, had been engaged to be married twice, and now she understood what Sparky had been alluding to all those years ago. With a toreador flick of her chin she walked away from the dying man. “You filthy pervert!”

˜

Patrice climbed the staircase, two steps at a time, harried by a persistent wind. The heel of one shoe snapped, and the ankle rolled painfully. She had a stitch, caused by exertion and panic. Clutching the abdomen, she reached down and picked up the broken heel, jaw working, mouthing angry, vile swear words, and her fist shaking; she raged against God for permitting entry into this other world. The pursuing wind entered her mouth and wrapped itself round the larynx, she gagged… and sobbed.

sl16-patricehathaway

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