A Sinking Feeling

The Sage and Edin were quietly relaxing in front of a warm fire in their West Wales home. Andrew, for a change, was reading something entirely unrelated to his work. He was, as it were, reading for total pleasure for the first time in a very long time. He was reading a paperback copy of the latest from Tom Clancy. A book with not even a hint of the supernatural in it. It merely contained all sorts of rouges bent on destroying the United States and its allies. He often wondered what it would be like to live in a world where there were no Old Ones, daemons or other supernatural nasties. It might be pleasant but it would mean that he and his compatriots would have had much more dull and boring jobs.

Beside his table sat a computer print-out, fresh from the printer, as yet untouched. It was entitled The Disappeared Quarterly, and the there was about half an inch thick of paper underneath the title page. The date of publication was written in Latin numerals and its authors all had the word brother before their last names. The tome, far being another lunatic conspiratorial screed, was in fact the most accurate account of human disappearances available anywhere. The publication was read in all corners of the security services and was widely respected. They were neatly catagorised, and certain areas of particular concern were highlighted if it were thought necessary. The cover letter, privately addressed to the Sage, pointed him to certain sections that might be of particular interest.

The unfortunates mentioned therein could wait a few more hours. Even an adept such as the Sage needed to rest his brain on occasion.

Rupert and Claire were off chasing down a minor nasty in the wilds of Northern Wales. It had been torching houses for the past few months and the locals were getting rather worried. Edin, although sorry to see his charges go without him, would have been wasted against such a simple foe. Knowing full well that the Sage was always under threat, she was loathe to leave him alone. Having made sure the wards were sufficient she was content to rest at his feet.

While the Sage read, his mind was distracted by thoughts of his latest concern. He was sure that the papers sitting next to him would bear witness to the rumours he was hearing . He would either have to send Clare and Rupert off to the West Coast of the US, or even possibly have to accompany them along with Edin. Unless they were able to secure the services of a friendly sponsor?s private aircraft it would require a great deal of hassle to take Edin, especially returning to Wales.

Tea would be ready soon, so the Sage and Edin would not have much time to indulge in their idleness. The Sage would carry his papers to the table and then discuss them with his butler. A man whose role was as much motivational as it was domestic. After the normal chatter about the daily matters of a house and parcel of land, things would move to professional matters. Derek was not without his sources in the occult. He was approached on a weekly basis by the well intentioned, ambitious and the malign to put a word in the good Sage?s ear. Were it not for the powerful avatar, a constant companion, Derek might have come to harm many a moon ago. Around his neck he wore a small odd shaped symbol etched on what seemed to be titanium. It was never exposed but it was always there.

The necklace hummed with invisible energy, letting Derek know it was there always. It took him a fair bit of time to get used to the amulet. The temptation to remove it was still there, but he knew he could never do so. It was bound to him, like his son was bound to him by blood. He set about his task preparing dinner, looking forward to being able to sit down and enjoy his efforts. He enjoyed his chats with the Sage. Even more so recently, after the Sage had surprised he and his wife with an out building as their new cottage. Never quite managing to deduce how the Sage had managed to have a near ruin turned into a small but spacious bungalow over a weekend, he was still grateful. The trek back and force to his cottage in the nearby village was beginning to grate. His rather old Escort disappeared, only to be replaced by a new Land Rover at about the same time as his house appeared.

The bottle of red was sitting opened, breathing as it waited to be consumed. The pasta was about to be finished and the salad was mixed.

Edin would know when dinner was on before her master. She would summon him at the appropriate time with a poke of her nose. She would first eat her own food, then attempt to acquire some of whatever was on offer. The one time Edin was a ?normal? dog was at meal times, she was allowed. Her nose told her that, at least for now, there was no evil within the range of her powerful nose. She knew when Rupert and Claire returned their clothes would reek of it, and it would take days to dissipate. She opened one eye, watching her master for a break point so she could catch his attention and encourage him towards the kitchen. She never got her chance, the phone rang instead.

The Sage reluctantly picked up the device, half expecting a spam phone call trying to sell him something he did not need. He knew immediately when the phone was to his ear that is was not such a call.

?Sage, hello it is Brother Davies?, not that this narrowed it down. It was obvious he was Welsh and Davies was not exactly uncommon. ?I trust you saw the latest disappearance reports.?

?Um, I haven?t quite gotten to them yet, sorry.?

?Oh sorry, I hate to call and disturb you but?? It was ironic to hear a Monk fret about the fact he was disturbing someone by calling them. It was unusual enough to have a Monk using the phone.

?No problem, what is the problem Brother Davies.?

??Sage, I know this is a bit far away from your normal patch but there is a problem with our fellow brothers in Oregon. ?

?Oh yes.?

?It seems the Monastery has some fishing boats. Rather larger than the sort we see here in Wales.?

?Oh yes.? The Sage thought to themselves. ?Well they are in the US, even monks have to do things bigger and better there.?

?These Brothers witnessed a rather disturbing event off the coast of Oregon Sage. It was something that might explain a rash of missing fishing boats off the coast of the North Western US.?

?Exactly what did they see??

?They watched a fishing boat, bigger than there own; swallowed by the sea. It did not so much as sink as well?drop.?

?No sign of it?I gather.?

?Not even an oil slick, absolutely nothing, as with the other cases in that part pf the Pacific.?

Baring a rash of really bad shipbuilding, there was something seriously amiss.

?The Monastery has provided me with extensive notes and accounts for your perusal. We can provide extensive referees as well.?

?No Brother than won?t be necessary. Can you email it to me??

?I believe it will already be in your mailbox??

The Sage sighed, put down the book that was sitting face down on his lap and carried the cordless phone with him to the kitchen.

?I will look at the accounts and be in touch with you tomorrow morning.?

?Thank you, I will send word immediately. God Bless You Sage, God Bless All of You.? He hung up the phone.

?I think we are going to need more than your blessings my friend,? the Sage said to himself. One of his number was going to have to go on a ship by the end of this. And it wasn?t going to be Edin. Rupert was not going to be pleased. The Sage had been meaning to add a nautical type to their number for many years, it never happened. The only decent adepts who liked the sea were on the other side.

One look at the Sage?s face and Derek knew something was up.

?Looks like I don?t need to peruse the list this quarter, I already know where the area of interest lies. It seems that our large intergalactic friend is causing trouble on the West Coast of the US. It seems there are not enough slave ships on the high seas these days to fill his quota.

?Ah, it seems he was not too pleased when his cultists were stopped from their sacrifice smuggling operation.?

?Yes, when the LA cops and the Coast Guard busted all those Triad?s for smuggling humans they got a few Cthulhuists as well. The officials just thought they were unlucky with all their lost ships. Luck didn?t have anything to do with it.?

The Sage sat at dinner with an expectant look on his face. His thoughts inevitably went to how to counter this latest threat to the world. He knew there were organisations in the US, like Delta Green who handled Old Ones problems. They, like he many times, were again involved in ensuring their continued existence as several government bodies were investigating them for their activities. Keeping one step ahead of the G-men and Cthulhu could be a hard task. The Sage?s thinking was rudely interrupted by the trilling of his phone. He reached out and picked up the cordless and answered it flatly.

?Hey Andrew? Hiya.?

It took the Sage a few seconds to realise who it is was on the other end of the line. It was Saul Bellows, a long time friend and fellow thorn in the side of the Great Old One.

?Am I calling too late or too early? I can never get this 8 hour time difference straight! I wanted to talk to you about this mess of the Pacific Coast??

?Ah yes, we were just discussing it?is it??

?Oh yes, most definitely it?s the Big C, as some in Delta Green call him. He seems to be a bit peeved that the US Coast Guard and INS have denied him his diet of poor souls for sacrifice. He seems to have taken to taking ships for himself.?

?Ugh?? The Sage was not sure he could handle Saul in California mode. The Sage knew the man as a Cabalistic Scholar and wandering Rabbi, who had seen time in London, Miami, Bermuda and Los Angeles. He was, compared to the Sage, a newbie when it came to the fight against the Big C. He became an unwilling participant when he purchased an abandoned hilltop castle-like house on the Pacific coast in Northern California. When he started to repair the place, he soon realised why it was abandoned. Had it not been for Saul?s extensive knowledge of esoterica he would have been dead or driven insane. In the end all that happened was that his black hair was now white as if bleached, and a slight case of the nerves.

Saul was not his real name, his given name was something long and complicated that contained, or so the Sage thought, the name Chaim in it, a vaguely Germanic long-winded last name and an another name with a lot of letters and few consonants.

?Anyway, I think I sorted the problem. I have emailed my tale for your pleasure. I was inspired by your style of tale-telling. It damn early in the morning here and its been a long few days. Got a rather terrified young intern here as well. Poor kid got to see a hell of a lot more than anyone that age should see. He is calm right now, just staring out at the water, but he might freak out at any moment.?

?Well you have to deal with freak-outs all the time, so it shouldn?t be a big deal.?

?Yes, but most of those fools freaked out thanks to self-medication. This time it isn?t his fault. I might actually to be a bit nicer with him.?

The Sage laughed, he knew his old friend was extremely understanding when it came to flaky people or those who were unwell mentally. He was even able to handle some of the competing flakes on the left coast who tended to get themselves in harm?s way all the time.?

?Well I lost a whole boat-load of flakes today. They wouldn?t listen to me and got themselves into a lot of unworldly trouble?ok I had better go. ? He sounded distracted all of a sudden. ?Email me if you have a questions about things. I think it might have been solved; for now.?

?It was always for now with these things. Man had been battling these extra-terrestrial nasties for millennia, and would do so for eternity.? The Sage thought to himself and sighted.

?Bye then.? The Sage hung up the phone and finished dinner, feeling a bit better. ?At least none of us will have to go to near the Pacific this time.?

The Sage finished his dinner content with the fact that he and his team were not going to have to fly to the West Coast of the US. He was looking forward to reading Saul?s tale of woe. It sounded pretty grim, but it was always thus when dealing with the Old Ones.

Once dinner was finished Edin and the Sage trotted off to the office. The Sage had to concentrate to make sure he didn?t spill his tea while tripping over the massive dog at his side.

Once firmly seated in front of his machine, Andrew opened his email and checked the detritus before moving on to his task for the evening. In a moment of pique the Sage decided he would rather have his tea and story in his ?reading? chair, rather than stare at the screen reading the small text. In seconds the laser printer was humming as it printed out the pages from his friend.

?Too bad he will never get the recognition he deserves.? There had been times when Saul was minutes away from jail for his activities. The American and Canadian constabulary were not known for their ability to think ?outside the box?. It was much easier to explain odd situations in the UK and Ireland, than it was across the pond. Saul one told the Sage: ?there is nothing so fun as having some armed redneck cop aim a gun at you in panic after seeing the results of a nasty fight with a supernatural evil.?

The still warm paper was firmly placed under the Sage?s arm. Edin was already in her place next to the chair, eyeing the Sage?s progress toward her.

He sat down and began to read the details of the event.

It read: ?Sage, this is the best I can remember of the last 24 hours or so. I tried to remember it all, so I could write it down like you do. I have started to realise that a record of this shit is a good idea as I get older. This way I can learn what to do the next time. In this case, I should title it. How not to get eaten!

I got a phone call about 8 am in the morning from some person calling from the Pacific Concern Environmental Research Collective or some such thing. One of their number wanted me to come out and take a look at something going on out to sea. He thought it was a bit more than just a ?pissed off giant squid?. The caller made me well aware of the fact that most of the rest of the ship thought this was ?uncool? and would not be happy to see me arrive. The caller did not even offer me a way of getting to their ship. He was kind enough to send me their location however.

Why I went I will never know. This bunch of fools didn?t want me there, would not even help me get to their ship. I endeavored to go however, using my own connections. Like you, I had been receiving some worrying reports about ships rumoured to be carrying people just vanishing at sea. All the vanishings happened in the same area off the coast. You know how I hate coincidences.

Well, anyway, I called up my favourite cabbala student?the one with a large silicon valley company and a fleet of aircraft. As per normal with these trips I made sure to secure a competent pilot and a helicopter without any logo. Furthermore, it was a sea helicopter with pontoons so it could land right next to a dock about 3/4 of a mile from my place.

Because I was positive this was Old Ones related crap, I decided to take a load of sigils that had made up to hand out. The ship with its 30 strong crew would damn near finished off my supply?but I figured it was wise. My pilot, my ticket out of Dodge, got one of my three elder signs to put in his uniform pocket. Fortunately, I knew the guy from past trips and he was content to ?take my word for it?.

Sage, I had best tell you how I managed to swing free transport at will. One of my students in my private Cabbala tutoring side-business just happens to be the owner of Dead Zone, a computer game company that has been very successful in recent years. A very bright guy, the type who either have been a mystic off in some remote sanctuary or a software company owner. He is a great student and one of the least demanding I have ever taught. Brook insisted on giving me all his promises in writing to make sure that ?no corporate wannabe gives me a hassle.?

Back to the important stuff. I hopped on the helicopter and headed out to the rendezvous point?.hoping of course they were where they were suppose to be. I would hate to have wasted our time just heading out to clear blue water.

Finding the research ship was not that hard?although it was near a large bank of dark clouds which made things a bit tricky. I looked around at the water near the ship, to see if I could see anything telling in the water. It was more murky than one would expect this far out to see, but nothing that obvious.

The reception committee on the ship was less than welcoming. The guy who had invited me was below concentrating on some reading and unable to see me for a while. The last thing I said before I got out of the helicopter was the best thing I have said in a long time.

?Keep it hot please. I don?t expect to be long and we might want to leave quickly.?

?Okie.? My pilot took out a book and began to read. ?Send word to me as soon as you decide to leave and I will have her fired up.?

I walked off towards below, sensing a tension and hostility in the air. The tension was not directed towards me but the hostility surely was. None of the personnel would even look at me. My guide led me down a corridor until we bumped into a rather young man who looked totally out of place.

?Hey Douglas! Get yer white-bread eating butt over here.?

The young man trotted over seemingly oblivious to the insult he just received.

?Show this guy to Cal?s quarters. Cal asked him to come look at some shit that he is freaking out about. I got important shit to do.?

I held out my hand to the young man, and he shock my hand heartily.

?My name is Douglas, Douglas Po. I am the intern and gopher on this ship.?

?Thanks Douglas?are they all so… err… rude to you??

?Nah, not that bad. Mostly they leave me alone except when they are all excited about something. These ships vanishing has got a few people worried. There have been big arguments over whether or not they should head to port or not.?

As we walked we chatted. ?I gather they decided not to leave the area.?

?Yeah a few people have been doing some non-scientific readings and they are getting a bit jumpy. Cal is one of them. They get into arguments with others about whether or not a monster is below us.?

?Oh? A monster??

?Yeah the others think its just a big squid or something. They thing Cal is going insane.?

I handed him a talisman and he took it without any question.

?Wear that around your neck. It will bring you?luck.?

?Thanks?? The young man looked a bit hesitant but followed my instructions nonetheless.

With that we reached Cal?s area, and things were not quite right. Cal was in the far corner of his room against the bulkhead in a ball. His legs were tight against his body , his arms wrapped around them. I could just barely see a head. He didn?t see us enter.

Douglas spoke gently; ? Cal? Cal, that guy has come to talk to you about your theory about the monster.?

Cal must have heard because he shot out of the bunk and got right in my face. His eyes were wide and bloodshot, his hair standing on end as if in terror. As he spoke his voice croaked.

?Get out of here! Leave now! Its too late?he is coming for us all. That?thing down there is coming for this ship!?

?Who??

?I warned them! I told them that it was bad being here! I warned them, I pleaded with them, I begged them, but no! I was just a stooge for the government. I was part of a cover up!?

?What is coming for us?? I handed him a talisman or tried to?

?That won?t do me any good! Don?t you understand? He knows I know he?s coming, nothing can save me. Nothing can save all of us! ?

?You can come with us??

?No! Then I will doom you too. You must go now!? He turned us around and shoved us out the door. I caught a glimpse of the books on his desk. They were not normal books on flora and fauna but books with horrible names. There were odd characters scrawled on pieces of paper.

Once we were out the door, Cal slam the portal shut and bolted the door. By now the sea beneath was getting rougher. There was an electric tension in the air and roar all around us. I quickly followed Douglas towards the helicopter. There was no one about, no panic. I tried to find someone to give a talisman to, but could not find one. As we neared the deck, I could hear the helicopter rev a little.

When we reached the deck, we could see that the dark cloud was almost upon. The cloud looked angry, glaring down at the ship with ferocity. As the boy and I reached the door of the helicopter the rotors began to move. The pilot was not going to wait.

?Wish me luck!? He yelled before we had a chance to buckle up. He gunned it will all his might and we began to lift. We at least that is what I think was happening. The distance between the ship and the helicopter began to increase, but we seemed to be still hovering.

It was the ship that was sinking, straight down! As we rose slightly higher we could see the water around the ship was now towering above it, there was water beside us like a giant wall. Below it the water level was sinking. It was if someone had pulled a bath plug at it was being sucked down the sink hole?only it was not revolving. As the pilot gave it everything we had, we watched the ship disappear below us.

Whatever was pulling at the ship tried to pull us too. It gave the helicopter was quick yank down only to let go sending us sprawling into the sky. We were out of control for a few seconds racing sideways away from the boat, clearing the wall of sea. The black cloud now covered the area where the ship had been, truly erasing any trace of it.

After we leveled out and I began to breath, the pilot sent out an S.O.S. for the ship. I realised I had dropped my goodie bag of talisman?s in the rush to get out. I remember mumbling to myself ?I hope they give it heart-burn.?

We stuck around a bit to see what we could, but quickly began to run low on fuel. We received word that several Coast Guard ships were heading to the area. The pilot advised them to be cautious?saying something about strong currents and a whirlpool. The rest of the way back to land we were mostly silent. I had to make sure that Douglas was still breathing as he was not making a sound. He had to be carried to my place by the pilot and I. He was in a state of shock.

Well Sage, that is about it. I think my 25 plus talismans might have given it a bit of nasty taste. It?s a pity all those poor fools had to die. Cal was right?he knew but no one listened. I suspect it wont be back in the area for a while. I think I might have to do something to make sure this boy isn?t a total wreck for the rest of his life. We will have to watch him for the next few days.

Managed to save one and keep my pilot and I from dying. Might have scared of the Big C from this part of the Pacific for a while. All in all not as bad as it could be.

If you know anything or anyone else who could help I am all ears.

Until the next time we need to chat.

Shalom, Saul.

The Sage put the pieces of paper on the table next to his chair and rubbed his eyes. Edin looked up expectant of some sort of result.

?Edin, shall we go see what there is to go with a second cup of tea? I can?t get back to Saul later. I doubt there is much more we can do.?

Edin wagged her tail and got up, waiting patiently for the Sage to get out of his chair and head to the kitchen, relieved that her master was here with her.

The Sage thought to himself, ?have to make Saul keeps up this writing thing. It is easier to follow the story this way.?

The pair headed to tranquility of kitchen, temporarily forgetting the constant evil presence out there deep in the sea.


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