The Abysses of Night

Summary: Phil Armitage was raised by the insane cult in a coastal town, and defends its secrets from curious outsiders that would stumble blindly into danger. When word comes that someone is preparing to awaken their slumbering master, Phil sets out to ensure the sacred mission he was raised for is fulfilled: to keep their god asleep.

"Thro' the ghoul-guarded gateways of slumber,

Past the wan-moon'd abysses of night,

I have liv'd o'er my lives without number,

I have sounded all things with my sight;

And I struggle and shriek ere the daybreak, being driven to madness with fright."

-H. P. Lovecraft, Nemesis

The eerie light of a gibbous and waning moon filtered through the dead branches of the trees in the Redmarsh swamp. In near total blackness, the groaning of a rusted car's suspension resounded through the silent darkness like the cry of a metal demon. Heavy footsteps lumbered slowly and deliberately through the shallow, fetid waters of the bog. A ragged robe soaked in the pestilent bog-water covered most traces of his pale skin, while a scratched plastic mask blocked the entirely of face save the cobalt eyes that reflected the moon above. A metal object was slung down below his hulking hips, a rust-encrusted implement grasped tightly in two hands.

Ignorant of the intruder's approach, two young adults lay tangled in an entwined jungle in the backseat. Their stalker saw them disrobing with the animalistic heat of adolescent hormones. Ceasing his advance temporarily, he momentarily took in their nakedness like a voyeur. As had been honed into a dark and compulsive ritual, he knew that what came next would be even messier than the awkward fumbling in the vehicle before him. Hiding behind a thick tree trunk, he preparing to leap out once the opportunity presented itself.

"Gary, I want to stop," said the strawberry-blond girl as she raised her hands in protest. "I don't feel comfortable."

"Come on, babe," said the blond teenager with a lanky athletic build as he pulled at the girl's underwear. "We've come this far. No turning back now."

"Please, Gary. I want to go home."

"Not until we go all the way, bitch," Gary said angrily. "What are you afraid of? Your dad? Chainsaw Face?"

Another reason to loathe his quarry in mind, the hunter steeled himself for what was to come. He already savored the abject terror he would soon reap. On cue, Chainsaw Face readied the weapon that was his namesake and leap from behind a tree. The motor roared to life as he raised the improvised weapon above his head as he charged forwards with a berserker's war cry. He smashed the rear window of the car with a mighty kick, sending shards of glass to the floor.

Gary screamed effetely as he bolted out the other side door with the fleetness of a spooked deer. The young woman laid there, embarrassed and futilely trying to cover her nakedness. For a moment of fear, she looked at the rotating teeth of the chainsaw now brandished before her. Clambering over the car, Chainsaw Face noticed something that Gary had discarded on the floor. Without a word, he tossed the car keys to the young woman before bounding after his other victim.

Chainsaw Face knew the swamp like the back of his hand, and cursed the zeal at which Gary had bolted deeper into the putrid marsh. He put on his ruse to scare idiots like that away, but normally his victims were smart enough to bolt or run towards the main road. Extraordinary stupidity required extraordinary measures to deter it, yet at least one hormonal couple always succumbed to the urge to copulate here every prom night. Gary had been dumb enough to ignore the toxic waste signs plastered across the road, as well as the rumors deliberately spread across the state.

The maniac wondered if he shouldn't just let natural selection finish off his uninvited guest before deciding the negative. With Gary running straight towards Uncle Toby's territory, there was no telling how his formerly-human relative would react. Keeping his chainsaw raised above his head, Chainsaw Face tried to head off the teenager, but he was not as fleet of foot as a young athlete in his prime. He began to sweet profusely in the summer weather, despite the cool dampness of the fabric.

Winded for a moment, he lifted his mask to catch his breath. Underneath the hockey mask was a round faced man panting heavily. Momentarily stripped of his defense against the world, Philip Ashton Carter reflected on his sacred duties. By day, he was a mechanic in the obscure coastal town of Redmarsh. By night, he was devoted enforcer of the Church of the Crimson Tide. Swatting away the mosquitoes that came to feast upon his face, he lowered his mask and returned to the chase.

The teenager's trail was easy to follow, as he left bare and deep footprints in the mire. Glad he wore his steel-toed boots, he wondered if any of the snakes, snappers, or other unpleasant denizens of the swamp would try to snack at the teenager's toes. None of them held a candle up to Uncle Tobias, the most infamous denizen of the rancid quagmire. Phil hoped he reach the youth before Toby did.

The foliage grew denser and darker as Phil descended deeper into Toby's domain. The few moonbeams poking through the branch-choked canopy were strangled and dim. While still on Gary's trail, Phil decided to announce his presence in hope of drawing attention. He killed the chainsaw's motor to save power, hoping the youth would be less frightened now that his noisy namesake weapon was off.

"Hey, Toby!" he exclaimed in a voice with a slight southern twang at the end. "It's just me."

No responses came, so he searched for movement as the trail narrowed. "Gary, I'm here to help!"

After a long second, Phil heard a reply of sorts. Gary's shrill, high-pitch shriek again echoed through the branches like a banshee's wail. The snap of breaking bones and the gooey sound of entrails being gorged on immediately followed. The smacking of wet lips and wet munching resounded through the arboreal pathway leading to Toby's territory.

Without hesitation, Phil charged into the deepest part of the swamp wishing he had brought another weapon with him. Despite being great for intimidation, chainsaws were piss-poor weapons, although his day-job as a mechanic had inspired him to make some modifications. With the unpowered weapon in hand like a spiked club, he scanned the mire for any signs of Toby or Gary.

Phil could barely see in the darkness, but the ichthyoid reek manifesting from a behind a curtain of nearby cattails that pointed him towards his destination. Rustling through the stalks, he beheld the bank of the Illwater Creek that emptied into the bay and was greeted by a grotesque spectacle of consumption. Almost immediately, the man behind Chainsaw Face's hockey mask was reduced to the brink of vomiting.

What was left of Gary was strewn across the murky expanse, the grisly leftovers of a feast that Phil's own brazenness had allowed to happen. Cursing his own stupidity and rash decision-making at first, his mind turned towards the creature that was now sucking on a hapless teenager's marrow. Moonlight glistened on his iridescent scales, and his bulbous, milky eyes gradually rose up to meet his. His crouched on his webbed feet as he shoveled mouthfuls of flesh into his face.

"Uncle Toby! You promised you wouldn't eat people anymore!" Phil said as he brought the weapon up.

The creature that had once been his relative hissed at him before standing up. Looming even taller than Phil's stocky build, the streamlined and muscular form of the fish-man bore few traces to the old man that Tobias Carter used to be. The creature issued forth a throaty growl as it raised its arms in a universal gesture of imminent violence.

"You normally ain't this nasty. What riled you up?" Phil asked, expecting neither an intelligible nor intelligent answer. "Mom was right about that crazy ritual from that old book, but you just had to do it!"

As the fish-man charged angrily and predictably, Phil forced himself not to run as he activated the electric motor of the only improvised weapon he had. Trusting his modifications and experience, he rammed the blade of rotating teeth at his monstrous adversary. A clawed forelimb swung towards his neck with feline agility, but his chainsaw rose to block it.

The soft and wet tissue easily yielded to the spinning teeth of the blade. A green blood with a coppery scent spilled across the dirty ground and his own hands. Tobias flailed angrily as Phil dropped his weight into the slice, but the cultist barely noticed the laceration Toby tore into his filth-encrusted robes. He did not even feel the disconcerting warmth of blood flowing down his robe until Tobias' forearm was thinly connected by a narrow strip of flesh to his upper arm that hung like a load from on a fraying string.

A sledgehammer blow from Tobias' other arm sent Phil crashing to the ground. As he laid sprawled on the ground, he saw the abomination rip its damaged arm clean off before bring its foot down towards the center of Phil's chest. Adrenaline surged as his tunnel vision narrowed around the only object still in his grasp. To his de-realized vision, time slowed to the crawl of movie frames as the chainsaw arced towards its target.

Phil did not know what unnaturally physiology his former uncle had, but joints were a natural vulnerability in any creature. The chainsaw's edge made contact with a fleshy knob he assumed used to be a kneecap, and rolled aside as the torn tissue and bodily fluids nearly clogged the engine. Tobias' stance immediately buckled as he raked his claws at where Phil had been, but struck nothing but mud. In the futile attempt to brace himself, Toby tried to steady his overextended limbs over his prone nephew.

Phil wriggled out from his Toby's position like a frantic inchworm as a mouth of razor-sharp fangs snapped at his neck. Greeting his uncle's jaw with a boot to the teeth, he eagerly leapt back to his feet. The dampness of the sweat soaking his undergarments nearly distracted him as he focused on ending the fight.

His teratoid former relative somehow retained his balance, but Phil knew he had to prevent him from escaping. Using his chainsaw, he hacked at Tobias' other leg, slicing through the thrashing limb as if it were a log. The motor stalled for a second, so he ripped the twisted the limb as though he was hitting a baseball with it. A squeal-like utterance from Uncle Toby's mouth was the first howl of pain from its inhuman mouth, and Phil wanted to ensure it was not the last.

Turning the saw on and off again while Tobias futilely pulled himself towards the water solved Phil's problem. Walking in front of the aquatic aberration, he again kicked Toby in the teeth before hacking off his last limb with the chainsaw. Having virtually quartered and mutilated the beast that was once his uncle, he forced opened the creature's mouth to ensure most of his teeth had been shattered.

"By the Master, you ain't gonna to eat any more folks, or I'll make you wish you could die," Phil said as he hoisted the torso over his shoulder. "Course, you'll regenerate, but it'll be at least a decade or two before you get that big again. You won't be so lucky next time, ya hear?"

A rasp-like growl was all that Toby managed to let out before Phil chucked him into the creek like a sack of garbage. He watched the torso float for a few seconds in the reflection-less brown ribbon before sinking. Much like a sea sponge he'd seen in a nature documentary, what was left of Uncle Toby had been reduced to a filter feeder. Since Toby would spent decades sucking down pond scum, Phil hoped the creature had learned its lesson.

Lowering his mask, Phil returned to the edge of the swamp. Much to his gratification and relief, the car was gone and the young woman with it. Hopefully, she'd learned her lesson. There were dark things best left undisturbed, and it was his sacred duty to the people who raised him in the Order to ensured they stayed that way.