The crunching of the small rocks below his feet where almost loud to the young man as he sought out the fisherman that his history tutor, Sandy, had told him about. He could see the small fire up head near one of the cliff faces: though that was pretty much all since the clouds where pulling the moon into shade making the night darker and more foreboding.
There was a vibe of wrong, in the air despite the fact the sound of the waves where almost peaceful, almost calling one to sleep. That undercurrent of wrong played with the hairs on his body, the nape of his neck and forearms. They lifted causing goosebumps which he wrote off as the chill in the air. He had become use to it here in New Haven, that cold darkness that just seemed to linger.
He contented to think on why he was here; He was on the football team and had only been in New Haven for a few months, that had put him behind the curve and this history paper would insure that he got ahead. Plus, Sandy was hot and had taunted him saying he was too chicken to do it. He had to show her, if he wanted to get into her pants any time soon.
As he got closer he saw the shadow of a man bent over what appeared to be a fishing net. He wasn’t sure what he was doing until he got closer, stopped, and took a moment to watch the shadows. They stretched and twisted, moving the wrong way before taking a shape of fingers and seeming to pull down the light with claws. It caused him to take a step back, instinct to flee was strong. The movement stopped when the fisherman looked up and watched back.
Fixing the net, he told himself that is all the man is doing. That’s all! He rationalized the shadows as a trick of the light and put it out of his mind before taking steps closer. As he moved the air was suffocating, the smell of rotted fish lingered unpleasantly.
After a hard look the fisherman looked down and started to fix his net again. Once he had gotten close enough he spoke in what was a loud whisper, his voice wet and ruined from years around the salt air, “And why are you here?”
It took him a moment to find his voice; the fisherman’s had triggered a spot of anxiety. “Uh, well Sandy McCann said that of all the folks here in New Haven you would have a good grasp on its history... that... you were once the history teacher?”
He took another look at the fisherman and found the man’s skin was a shade of gray and very pale, like death. There was a bloated look around the eyes like he has spent too much time in the ocean and one would think a fisherman would have a tan. His nose wrinkled in disgust as he reconsidered the choice to come here. Was Sandy really worth all this..? He couldn’t leave, he finally reasoned. He would be branded a coward and he just could not have that.
“Ah,” The man said, his nimble fingers still fixing weaves along the lines “Well the price of Knowledge is not cheap.”
“Price?!” The teen said, giving a look around then back to the fisherman. His hands went into his pockets and he pulled out his wallet, looking through it “Well... I just have a twenty.”
The man looked up, the light reflected in them a moment causing an almost red tone “Oh yes son, everything has a price in this world. Don’t worry about the money, My price is just a few moments of your time. I don’t go into town a lot, so you can fill me in after we speak.”
The boy let out a relieved sigh “Sure, Mister”
“Take a seat” He motioned to some drift wood next to him without looking up. As the younger boy sat the fisherman spoke. “So do you want the history of suicide cove or the myths?”
The boy blinked “Suicide cove? Oh. Oh...” He laughed nervously thinking this was a test and deciding that Sandy had put the old man up to being extra creepy. “Oh well it doesn’t really matter, all of it I suppose. Might get points for the myths.”
He rubbed his hands and stopped abruptly as the fisherman looked up at him and just grinned. There was something in that Cheshire cat smile that made him very nervous.
“Mmhmm. Everyone wants a peak of what is underneath until they see it.” The old man said once more turning his attention to the net and the teen found he was relieved to not have the man’s eyes on him anymore.
“The locals call it Suicide Cove due to all the suicides around here, though that is pretty much common sense. It's the lack of sun, very little except for those few days of summer. That is, if your lucky,” The old man paused. “What is your name?”
“Thomas,” The boy said.
“Well, Thomas,” There was a dark chuckle from the fisherman that caused his jowls to bounce before saying, “I am Anton.”
He wet his lips as his eyes scanned the area before looking back at Thomas and then his net “So, the first people where the Red Clay people. They existed around 3000 BCE to about 1000 BCE. If you explore the caves in the cliffs it still has some of their stuff in it. No one knows what happen to them except what they left behind, burial mounds in the caves, Bones with red ochre. Writing on the walls..but nothing else”
He wet his dried lips and continued. “By the time the Europeans got here, the area was inhabited by the Penobscot; an Indian tribe that used the land for fishing and hunting. Lived along the coast,” He made a motion with his tool from the city and then beyond him before continuing to work on the net as he spoke.
“In 1756 a Frenchman by the name of Adam Durant found his way here, the Indians and the French and English had built a relationship with the tribe through Missionaries so that’s what the Penobscot thought he was. They didn’t know he was on the run from the folks up in Arcadia They welcomed him in, made him at home. He was here a few moons, no one knows for sure. But young girls started to go missing. They found him in one of the burial mounds after he had finished with the most recent girl, his hands around her throat as he tried to strangle the life out of her. The legend is, the shadows of red moved and tore him from the girl and into the People. They tied stones to his legs and tossed him into the cliffs where all those poor souls go to die when they can't take it anymore.”
“Nine months later the girl gave birth to twins. It’s said the twins where like night and day, one was pale with skin like its fathers, the other red skinned like its mother. And when the moon hid its face, the mother found her children cuddled up together one night. She saw that something was wrong, the moon skinned child had an ashen color to it. And when the mother leaned in she noticed the other had a smile on its face, and its hands were wrapped around its dead sibling’s throat.”
Thomas scoffed causing the fisherman to stop and look at him, the eyes flashed in the fire light giving him the impression that the Fisherman was very annoyed, it was almost a warning and he gave a quick apology.
“You don’t believe. That’s okay, its myth. But there is a truth. There IS an evil here, an evil from the Ocean, an evil in the city and in those cliffs. No one sees it, or they do and they chose to ignore it, to find something that allows them to rationalize it away. They forget to look underneath and see the truth.”
The shadow moved as if it was fighting itself and slid back down as if it never happen causing Thomas to shake his head and make a motion, “Please continue.”
Anton the Fisherman breathed and let it out, an annoyed sound “After that, they – Hey can you come over here and take a look at this knot for me? My old eyes can't tell if it’s tight enough.”
Thomas stood and took a few steps around the fire, that feeling of suffocation hitting him like a fist as he got closer. The rotted fish made his stomach turn, but the idea of Sandy impressed made him move closer despite his unease.
As he did, Anton stood and held out the net. “Truth be told, Thomas. Mundane wise there isn’t anything of true interest that happened here. Its the night that has interest, or the full moon that does. When one sees one city lapsing over another, hear the children cries like baying hounds in the night as they hunt. That's when people lose their minds, when they find their way to the cliffs or to the Asylum. Those are the ones that are caught by those that live in the night, or in the full moon. Most, actively ignore it. It’s not their business. Not to many people ask questions or look to deep the price is far too hefty for them”
Thomas reached out to take the offered neat and started to look it over. “Seems fine.”
He felt the fisherman move closer and say “But it’s not. You offended me and now I am going to take what is mind, the price has changed.”
Thomas looked up, his eyes widening in horror as something lifted from around the mans bloated eyes, they looked like the legs of a crab, the appendages lifted along his cheek and cupids bow under the nose, opening along the chin and forming a maw that held rows of teeth.
That was the last thing Thomas saw as the Fisherman leaned in.
The net fell as the boy's body did, though the fisherman caught it and sat, his free hand rising to wipe the blood of his mouth.
His eyes turned from the headless body as it started to move, lifted up by hundreds of crabs and taken out to sea to dispose of what was left.
“No one pays attention to what lay beneath until it’s too late.”