T. Rios

The Beach House

          In her house at R’lyeh, nothing remains for her. This is unfortunate. Df’chl is eighty-thousand years old, and has experienced enough of the Earth’s rotations around that unrelenting star to know her place is among the murk of the ocean floor. After all, she is no fan of the star. It festers in the sky like an infected wound, and bathes everything a sickly golden light that illuminates more than it should. She has tried (repeatedly, and without reward) to make herself forget everything she saw during her forays to the land of wind and rock. But she can’t stop dreaming about straight lines and translucent panels.

          Before she saw the house, it never occurred to Df’chl to object her to condition. Because they understand that anything that tries to distinguish itself from miasma is a lie, her people prefer to abide in darkness and slime. They flit through the spheres and spires of their ruined city without trying to repair the evidence of its sundering from the mainland. They understand that such an effort would be pointless. Thanks to the Great One, they know that quests for meaning are fundamentally masturbatory. Temples, markets, restaurants, castles, promenades, monuments: all amount to nothing more than the grinding of a parasite against an ignorant and indifferent host. Eventually, the Great One will cease his dreaming, and break free of his citadel. He will surge upward, all of his tentacles unfurling, and commence his assault upon the land of rock. He will bring everyone who dwells beneath the hateful star to lie in R’lyeh, and all will remember that they are nothing more than his children. But until the Great One awakens, it falls to his children to prepare his way.

          This is where Df’chl’s troubles began.

         Above them—far, far above; beyond the span of water that’s irradiated with starlight, upon the sandy midland that lies between the ocean and the rock—sits a town swaddled by shadows. Ages ago, someone among Df’chl’s commanders (whom, truth be told, she’s always found interchangeable; but isn’t that the point? Isn’t that what they’re striving towards?) discovered that the people of this town made for easy converts. Ever since then, it has been part of their customs to periodically arise from their depths and indoctrinate whomever they’re able. Usually, the indoctrination involves a fair amount of fornication, which Df’chl has never struggled to withstand. She understands that it’s within their best interests to reproduce as prolifically as possible. If one of their converts ever holds her too tightly, or brushes his lips against something that’s better left unkissed, she closes her eyes and thinks of The Great One. In all the years of her existence, this strategy has never failed her. There is no reason the house should shake her so profoundly. Df’chl has lived for long enough to be intimately acquainted with the various forms of noise and sparkle that people surrounded themselves with in order to feel less mortal. The contempt that such things should inspire used to come to her naturally. But the house—

          She doesn’t know how to account for it. Didn’t know how to account for it, the first time she saw it. The mere sight of it was enough to make her halt on the flagstone path its owner had beaten into the bluff. Everything was light and angles. The roof was a flat square crown that extended far past the walls it was meant to cap. Beneath it ran a band of glass, each pane separated from one another by wedges of red wood, and from themselves by smaller strips that had been set within their innards. The walls of the main wing ran towards the ground with no semblance of hesitation, but managed to tolerate the presence of miniature replicas that nestled against it on either side. Everything about it smacked of the most careful and calculating order. Whoever designed the building had clearly deliberated upon how to create a world with as few strokes as possible.

          As it so happened, Df’chl did not actually enter the house. She stood in front of it for long enough to compel the convert to turn around and reach out to her. She started, raked her claws across his mouth, and leapt from the bluffs and into the sea.

          Now she flits in aimless and ever-widening circles around R’lyeh. For a brief spell, it seemed to Df’chl that the only honorable thing she could do was kill herself, but the thought of the house has made her decide against it. She wants to see it again. She has no idea what will happen when she gets there; the urge to open all of her mouths and bind the house to herself with a ballad of blood and mucus is tempting. But it seems to Df’chl that such a thing would undermine its straight, unflinching lines. Nevertheless: nothing remains for Df’chl but to go there. She will go there and she will wait, and eventually the answer will reveal itself to her. All the words of praise that she heaped upon The Great One will eventually slip from her memory, and new ones (the likes of which she can’t imagine) will replace them. She only needs to swim upwards.

T. Rios has an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has previously appeared in venues such as Asymmetry Magazine, Expanded Horizons, and Rabble Lit. Currently, she is trying to figure out how to force her office manager to order lined Post-Its. It’s been an uphill battle.

JD Thornton