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Okay, here is the first of a three part story – previewed as Lovecraftian, although on reflection, I’m not sure I stayed completely true to that genre. It starts a little slow, but parts 2 & 3 should make up for the usual carnal carnage you’ve come to expect from me…lol. I am very keen on getting your comments, be they pro or con.
As always, this is a work of fiction and all characters therein are fictional, existing solely within the confines of my imagination (such that it is). Enjoy!
I cannot honestly say that the first time I set eyes on Isprey Island that I harbored feelings of dismay and horror, although loathing might have been a dominant emotion. I remember that it was green and verdant, a beacon of furious life in a dark, gray and very forbidding ocean. I remember seeing the house for the first time, rising up on the side of the dominant hillside like a great, white fortress. I remember that I had just turned eighteen and that I was eager, ravenous almost to get on with my life and frustrated that instead that I would be spending the summer before university with my parents in this isolated, primitive place.
My father, Thomas Halloran, a professor of literature of rather infamous reputation, had taken a sabbatical from Miskatonic University — no doubt to the relief of his students and many of his peers in order to do research on a relatively unknown author from early medieval England named William Isprey. My father’s academic specialty had been Nordic bards, but near the time of my birth, he had come into possession of a Renaissance era treatise examining the writings of one William Isprey from the late 900s AD, an account of his adventures with a party of Viking adventurers who had established a colony on Isprey Island, some three hundred miles off the coast of Maine.
Most experts had discounted the writings as fiction, an almost quaint tale of adventure and horror that invoked images of worshipping Dark Gods and questing for arcane power, My father, however, had become obsessed with the treatise and had spent most of my life searching for fragments of Isprey’s work, particularly a piece my father called, “The Summoning.”
For years, Father had sought to gather the means to visit and do work on Isprey Island which had been associated with William Isprey since before the arrival of the Pilgrims in the early 1600s. The happiest I’ve ever seen my father is when he brought home from a research trip to Saint Petersburg, an ancient map marked with Nordic runes and Latin words and was purported to be a Viking sailing chart dated from the 1100s which clearly marked a tiny island off the coast of North America as Isprey’s Island.
Since the time of the arrival of the Puritans, various folk have dwelt on the island, albeit not for long, the island claimed and disinherited in turn by the English, the French, Massachusetts, and Maine. Individuals have built homes there, only to sell or abandon them. The last was a wealthy recluse who built a substantial Cape Cod house there in the late 1880s and which has been rented out time and time again after his suicide in 1913.
Others have done archaeological research there, confirming that a group of Viking colonists had established a settlement, intermittently maintained between the years 900 — 1100. Along with artifacts of a Viking outpost was evidence that some Native American groups had been on the island over the centuries with the findings suggesting that it had been a site of some religious significance.
Now, my father hoped to make his contribution to the history of Isprey Island and perhaps find evidence that would lend credence to William Isprey and his work being more that fanciful fiction. On rare occasions, Father would share some of his work with Mother and me, but it held little interest for me — Father’s translations and suppositions making it sound like Isprey was merely a madman, seeking to call upon long forgotten ancient gods he referred to as the Old Ones to grant him power.
I knew that in this summer of Father’s research, my purpose was to simply be his slave laborer and that the many shovels and axes and other tools he had gathered and had loaded on our charter boat would be utilized by me to clear away brush or to dig for his proposed evidence. Father had offered vague hints that he was sure of the location of a site where Isprey had actually conducted his rituals and that once uncovered, it would allow him to offer up “incontrovertible” proof of his theories about William Isprey. When my father talked of such things, I knew that in his faraway stares he was seeing himself accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature or some such damn fool thing for all his years of sacrifice and ridicule.
The truth was that it was actually Mother who had born the sacrifice and ridicule that others heaped on Father’s ideas. Father never paid attention to the derision of others. It was Mother that suffered the pains that the sneers and isolation that the academic community inflicted. Father never paid bostancı escort attention to us either. For my entire life, his place in our lives was an almost constant vacuum as he closeted himself off in his office, pouring over old manuscripts or sequestered himself deep in the older vaults of Miskatonic’s library, seeking amongst their immense collection for clues or answers to his obsession. Often, when he could find funding, he would be off doing research in Europe or the Middle East.
Mother never complained, but always gave me a sad smile when I complained bitterly about being abandoned by Father, telling me in her always gentle way, “His work is important, John. He loves us in his way and provides for us…in his way and we must love him back as much as we can.”
Ah, that was my mother in a nutshell…gentle and loving and never complaining. From my earliest memories, she always seemed beautiful, sad and wan, her golden blonde hair framing her pale face, her skin like flawless porcelain. I remember even now glancing at her as we stood on the prow of the fishing trawler Father had chartered to transport us to Isprey’s Island, her long, modest white dress flapping in the sea breeze, her hair streaming behind her in the bracing breeze, a barely hinted expression of dismay on her face as she studied the verdant isle growing larger before us.
Mother noticed me glancing at her and reached out to place her hand over mine, her soft fingers trembling slightly as she did so. “Perhaps we’ll enjoy ourselves despite the isolation, John — our chance to truly get away from it all.” Her fingers squeezed my hand wrapped around the safety railing. “And it does give me a last opportunity to spend time with my only child before he ventures off into the world and makes his own mark.” She smiled at me lovingly as she always had, the love that was evident in her face tainted by the always lingering sadness.
I tried to smile bravely back and to be encouraging. Realizing it was lame even as I said it, I replied, “I will come home to visit, Mother…as often as I can!” Mother smiled at me, her eyes growing glassy with tears as she knew that my words were a lie. I hoped to put the gloomy, dark world of my father and Meskatonic University behind me forever. In my clothes chest rested my acceptance letter to Stanford and I already knew that once I was in the embrace of California, I would never return.
As we approached the dock, a somewhat disturbing odor alerted me to the nearness of our ship’s captain, Horace Waltern, a scruffy, pot-bellied old salt who smelled of cheap wine and sardines at all times. Father had charted his boat, “The Vulgar Harpy,” to carry us out to the Island…a journey of nearly two days. In the next three months, he was to be our only contact with the outside world, bringing in fresh food and supplies every three weeks.
“Just ye look at her…never seen such a green place in this bitch of an ocean before…’taint natural.” He spoke the words into my ear, making me nauseous with his foul alcohol and fish breath. Even before I turned however, I knew that his eyes would be roaming lasciviously over my mother. He had lingered near her whenever his duties could spare him…even now as we approached the simple dock of the island, he had left the navigation of his boat to his first mate, a sullen Indian who rarely spoke. I suppose it was only natural that men would look at my mother so. Despite being her son, I recognized that Mother was a beautiful woman, tall and very bountifully blessed as it were with what father had once laughingly called an “hour-glass” figure.
Mother ignored his rude stares and said, “It does seem odd, but Thomas tells me that that the island’s lush foliage is due to the Gulf Stream and that most years, it flows around the island, its warmth making it green and ripe much as it does England across the sea.”
Captain Waltern licked his lips as he stared at the swell of Mother’s breasts, barely hinted at her mostly buttoned up dress. “Maybe, ma’am, but it’s a wrong place…unnatural and I’ll keep you in my prayers every night.”
I snorted in derision, knowing that if the captain thought of my mother at night, it would not be in prayer that he would be engaged. His vulgarity made me ache to simply push him into the freezing waters of the Atlantic for thinking such lewd things about my mother. He turned to glare at me, but before he could say anything, Father strode up, already looking impatient and said, “Captain Waltern — I would appreciate you expediting the transfer of our cargo to the docks as soon as possible. My time on the island will be limited and there is not be a moment to waste.”
Father was a formidable looking man, years of reading in dimly lit libraries at faintly scribbled works had left him with a hostile squint that combined with his stocky frame made him look like a brawler in a common tavern. The captain glared at my father for a moment, irritated to be ordered about so, but then nodded and said, “We’ll see ümraniye escort bayan to it.” He gave Mother one last leering glance and stomped away, hollering at his deck hands to see to our gear.
As the engines ceased their roar, the first mate brought us deftly up to the dock where to my surprise a man and woman stood waiting. The man was young and I would have guessed him to be my age or maybe a bit older — his hair black and curly, a lean wiry frame clothed in a sleeveless T-shirt and faded and frayed workpants. He had one arm wrapped possessively around the woman’s shoulders and as I walked down the gangplank, leading Mother by the hand, I could see the woman was much older than the young man — her long wiry black hair laced with gray and pulled back tightly into a bun with a gleaming silver needle stabbed into it to hold it in place.
She wore a modest servant’s dress — an apron wrapped around her waist. The male in me appreciated her obvious health and solid and womanly appearance. Her legs were thick, but shapely below the hem of her dress, feet in sturdy work shoes while the bodice of her dress swelled from her completely covered but obviously huge breasts. Her skin, like the young man’s was of an olive cast, but I was unable to ascertain their ethnicity. Her face was wide and expressive, an anxious smile etched there as she watched Mother and Father and myself approach. Mayhap she wasn’t a beauty as reckoned by modern standards, but there was an aura of loveliness about her and a frank and raw sexuality that reminded me of the paintings of Rueben that hung in the art gallery at Meskatonic University.
“Mister Halloran, we’ve been expecting you,” she said with more than a hint of an accent in her voice which sounded pleased and happy, yet nervous.
“Antonia…and young Hector, isn’t it? You’ve grown, lad.” Father extended his hand and shook the young man’s firmly, then leaned in and kissed the woman on the cheek. “Everything is ready at the house?”
She nodded and said, “Of course, Mister Halloran. You will love it — it is a grand place. She turned her gaze to me and my mother, waiting several seconds before my father remembered to introduce us.
“Of course…my apologies, dear,” he said gruffly to Mother. “Carmen, may I present Antonia Grabelia and her son Hector. She will be our housekeeper during our stay and Hector will work the grounds and be a jack of all trades. Antonia, this is my wife Carmen and our son John.”
I took Antonia’s hand, a bit startled at the great warmth there, but then distracted and amused as she did an odd little curtsey. “Ma’am,” I said simply. Then I shook her son’s hand, both of us shaking firmly and taking measure of each other as we made eye contact. He was strong, but I held up my end. We both smiled, finding no fault in each other and nodded in greeting.
“John, I pray you and Hector get along — I expect to have you both working hard to clear my site.
I nodded and said, “Of course, sir.”
I wasn’t aware that there was any sarcasm in my voice, but saw Hector catch my gaze, roll his eyes sympathetically and then nod. I felt certain then that we would be friends and that like me, he thought my father to be a pompous ass.
Antonia brushed past me, triggering a bit of a flush as the edge of her large bosom brushed my arm as she moved to take Mother’s hands, her breasts jiggling a bit as she reached up on tiptoe and planted kisses on first one cheek and then another. My mother’s faced flushed with red at the action, unused as she was to close contact. Back at the University, Mother rarely kept company with other faculty wives, pursuing her own solitary interests of painting and working in her garden.
“I’m very pleased to finally meet you,” murmured Mother. “Thomas has talked so much about you from his trips to Ankara and Bucharest.”
Antonia smiled proudly and said, “It has always been a pleasure to serve your husband. He has been very generous to Hector and myself. We were thrilled to receive his request to work for him here in America.”
Mother nodded, an odd, but still sad smile on her face, “Well, close to America at the very least. I hope we can show you the sights of New England after Thomas completes his research here. New England is so lovely in the fall.”
Antonia’s smile grew larger and she said, “That would be so wonderful, Missus Halloran.” She slipped an arm around Mother’s waist and steered her up the dock towards the house. “Come, let us get you settled in. I’m sure after staying on that…degenerate’s boat for nearly two days, a hot bath is in order.”
Mother laughed, her voice a crystalline joy to hear — laughter never coming to her easily, as she allowed the other woman to guide her along off the water and up a sandy path that led towards the house on the hillside.
One of the boat’s deckhands walked up with a heavy box and handed it to me. As I grunted under the weight, quickly adjusting it so it wouldn’t slide from my grasp, he snapped, “Make kartal escort yourself useful, boy.”
I glanced at Hector who was glaring at the deck hand until another handed him an equally heavy box and Father said, “Be lively, lads. Carry that lot up to the house and come back for the rest.”
We both turned and struggled for the sandy path, not making a sound until we were well out of range of Father at which point, Hector grinned at me and said, “I imagine all things being equal, you’d rather be in California right now.”
I rolled my eyes and replied, “California, Florida, even Hell’s looking good right now.”
Mother and I quickly discovered we were no longer living in the 20th Century…one might surmise that we’d barely escaped the 19th Century. The house was massive and impressive, constructed by artisans — every room an architectural delight with exquisite woodwork and moldings, hardwood floors covered by authentic Turkish rugs. The house had electricity, supplied by a fuel oil fed generator that was generally turned off during the day, but lacked a phone or a two-way radio. The stove and water heater were powered by a huge tank of natural gas. A large, antiquated radio sometimes caught a signal from somewhere in Nova Scotia from a station that broadcast mostly in French and favored what I assumed to be polka music.
Still there were some positive aspects of the house. My bedroom alone seemed to be larger than the apartment we’d lived my entire life in. There were at least twenty rooms in the house and every day or two, I seemed to discover another nook or cranny — once even a “secret passageway” that led from the upstairs hallway down to the “servants quarters” below.
We largely confined ourselves to the upstairs rooms while Antonia and Hector took rooms below — rooms clearly built as servants’ quarters in another day and age. Mother offered them both rooms above, feeling that it was ridiculous to treat them in such a way, but Antonia steadfastly refused and was supported by Father who lectured Mother on maintaining appropriate societal lines. This was emphasized at the evening meal as Antonia refused to allow herself or Hector to sit down and dine with us. Like Mother, I felt awkward being served dinner in the dining room by someone who would then eat her own meal in the more plain kitchen not ten feet away. Lunch and breakfast were more sociable, but were more or less rushed affairs to provide fuel for Hector’s and my arduous labors outside.
To our surprise and much to my dismay, behind the house was a large swimming pool, long fallen into disrepair — extended neglect making it a green slimy pool of algae choked water in which nothing could swim except for the abundance of frogs that would lull us all to sleep at night with their steady and monotonous croaking. Even Mother who as far as I knew had never ventured into the ocean or wore a bathing suit seemed disappointed by the waste of such a potential source of recreation.
We all quickly settled into defined routines. Father turned another upstairs bedroom into his office where he sorted through crates of books and manuscripts and notes that all revolved around his quest to uncover the secrets of William Isprey. When he wasn’t prowling about the island, searching for signs and clues, he would isolate himself in his office, quickly taking to sleeping there on a metal cot that Hector and I brought down from the attic — an action that seemed to deepen the sadness that enveloped my mother.
With Antonia firmly and effectively running the household chores, Mother’s routine was a more sedate one. She would take endless walks around the island in search of scenes to paint or she would sit on the balcony that faced the morning sun and practice her art there or would wander the house, carrying a book, seeming sad and lost as she sought a place to read in quiet.
I knew that she was carrying new disappointment in her heart. That Father all but ignored us with his work was nothing new, but I sensed shattered hopes that here in the middle of nowhere amongst only three other people, that he would have paid her a little more attention. Still, she never complained, going about her day often only speaking to me or Antonia…painting or reading or gazing out at the dark and foreboding Atlantic as it never ceased throwing its waves against us.
My life quickly seemed to winnow down to waking up to one of Antonia’s huge breakfasts which gave me the fuel to spend the day clearing designated pieces of the estate that had become overgrown with brush and small trees. Hector and I would spend day after day, digging, cutting and dragging off the brush. It was mindless work and we spent hours talking about girls and sports and sports and girls, pausing every so often in surprise as we began to uncover sheets of cut stone laid out in what appeared to be a circular pattern in a thicket of thorny brush to the north of the house.
Each new discovery sent Father into an ecstatic state I’d never witnessed in him before and each one usually resulted in a modification of his instructions on where to clear the brush off next. To my own surprise, the pattern soon became clear to me and Hector and we began anticipating Father’s orders, much to his surprise and our secret amusement.
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