Men of Cthulhu

The Sage looked down at the thing that lay before him on Tenby beach. Eden, his faithful dog, looked stern and tried to contain the rumble in her throat. An “interested” witness to the recent attack explained what he saw. As this happened in Wales, the Sage did not enjoy the anonymity that sometimes made this sort of thing easier when he was in other locales. He was called by the gentleman in question because he had seen the events when several large jellyfish attacked a swimmer the previous afternoon. They didn’t just float; they went for the person in question. Three attacked in unison, and what lay before them was one of the three guilty parties. It’s feelers were about 5 feet long and the body was about 3 feet across. It looked like a normal jellyfish, but the Sage knew it wasn’t.

“So how is the bloke who got attacked, then?” queried the man for a second time, as he poked the thing with a stick.

The Sage, of course, didn’t wish to answer because he had ascertained the person standing next to him might know it was odd if there was absolutely nothing wrong with the victim. He was not stung in the slightest…a surfer and a strong swimmer, he had merely powered his way away from the jelly-fish. There were more people on beach in need of medical attention than the man at the centre of the problem. Rupert and Claire were currently having a natter with the bloke over a pint at a local pub. After the bloke had a few pints Claire might try probing his mind to see if his affectation was mental rather than physical.

The Sage had meant to come down to the beach earlier but the tide and his sleeping patterns worked against him.

“Sage, I have been on this beach most days of my life since I was a boy, and I have never seen a jelly fish like this.”

The Sage knew that while there were occasional beach bums in the UK, there was a recent rise in their appearance. The environmental lobby blamed “global warming” but the Sage thought he knew better. First of all he believed that the arrogant assumption that man could cause a major detrimental shift in the earth’s temperature ridiculous. Secondly there was new evidence that global warming was being caused by an increase in temperature on the surface of the sun. And thirdly, he was well aware that this sort of sea beastie could be, and quite often was used by Cthulhu, who after, all lived in Ry’leth under the sea, to do his bidding when he got tired of his human minions failing. Victims lost in the war against jelly-fish frequently turned up in one form or another in various Deep Ones cults on the other side of the sea.

“Sage?” asked the affable but persistent older gentleman.

“Ugh sorry, was deep in thought.” He chose his words carefully, “yes this is a bit odd but there are things in the sea that are a mystery to us still. This trio probably got lost and got sucked into some stream or other and ended up here by mistake.’

“But why would they attack that surfer?”

“The heavens only know,” he paused and tried to sound plausible, “ the surfer probably disturbed their feeding or something.”

The Sage was saved by Rupert and Claire trotting along the beach. Eden herded him away from the old man and the jellyfish and towards his colleagues. The Sage knew his lower thigh would have a bruise on it where Eden was poking him.

“Excuse me but I must go talk to my colleagues…”

“Yes I understand Sir. It was an honour to help you sir,.” responded the man, clearly disappointed he wasn’t to be included in the team for this investigation. “If you need me you will find me here at low tide…”

He met his colleagues, and they all headed back to the dry land, both well aware of his companion’s exuberance.

“Why don’t we grab a spot of lunch and have a natter about what we know?” asked Andrew.

“Sounds good to me, Sage,” responded Claire. “Although I will be sod all use…there was nothing in that surfer bloke’s mind to get out.”

As they walked up the hill, “do you mean in general or about this case?”

“Um…” responded Claire.

“Lets just say he was a typical surf nut…” responded Rupert, “of the South Wales variety.”

“So it’s not worth…”

“Not in the slightest. I have never heard anyone use dude more often outside of a Bill & Ted movie.”

“Ah…”

They continued to a local hostelry for lunch where not much about the investigation was discussed. The Sage just said there was nothing much to add and left it at that. It would be later that evening when they reconvened for dinner that they would figure out what next. He knew exactly what was going on, but was rather unsure what to do about it. As long as the attack was this tame there was nothing that could be done without a bit of difficulty. It would unfortunately require something a tad more serious before anything could be done on a large scale. Unfortunately “more serious” generally meant it had to involve a corpse. Of course, if they were up to what he suspected there wouldn’t be one.

He sighed, “Bugger…”

“What?” queried Claire as they drove home. Eden sound asleep with her head on the Sage’s leg in the back of the Land Rover.

“I am trying to figure out how to stop them doing whatever they are doing…’

“Well its obvious what they are doing…do they ever stop?”

“Well certainly not until they have enough numbers to take back dry land, they won’t.” He paused, “If that ever happens, things will get very ugly indeed.”

Rupert finally spoke as he stoically drove. “Well generally there is someone co-operating on-land. We need to find out whomever is doing it and stop them.”

“Well, yes, that would be ideal…but where do we start?” said the Sage as they turned into his house’s drive.

“Those dream-addled goons always show themselves sooner or later. You just have to know where to look.”

“And let me guess…..you know where that, is right?” sniped Claire.

“Yeah, and after dinner tonight I am going to head off into Tenby for a bit of a gander. I will be staying there over-night so don’t expect me back. Will take the overland route to the A-road to see if I can hitch my way into Tenby.”

“But…”

“Don’t worry, Claire, I will be in disguise.” He paused. “Guess who the newest American surf dork is in town?”

Everyone snickered, even the Sage thought, at least, Eden. Not one of them bothered to admonish Rupert to take care, as he, of all people knew better than anyone how that was done.

Dinner went off as it would in most households. Claire even joked that she and the Sage should watch some Monty Python or Black Adder as Rupert was off “on the pull”.

As dinner was being cleared up the Sage went off to his office and returned. Eden didn’t bother moving from her place on the floor.

“Here, this might make it look a bit more realistic,” The Sage handed Rupert a couple of $20 bills, a $10 and some schrapnel. “Here are some pounds as well. Make sure you pay for the room in cash. Make that beard a goatee and don’t walk so proud.”

“Yes Sage, I know…” He sounded a bit angry but didn’t continue it. “I grabbed some used surfer stuff from charity shop in town. It’s sufficiently worn to look genuine.”

“Alright, I know you know what you are doing, but please keep us informed.” The Sage continued, “they are not all gormless idiots, we must remember.”

“Well yes, theoretically…”

“Claire, we have to assume that we aren’t dealing with drones all the time. I know it’s bloody hard, but not every one is a simpleton easily led.”

“Yes Sage…” she trailed off and the table was cleared.

Rupert disappeared off to his Land Rover and didn’t return.

“So will Meaning of Life do?”

“Actually I think Life of Brian might do better…”

“Ok, settle in…” He recommendation was unnecessary as a sitting Sage and a very large dog now occupied the couch.

“I guess I get the big chair then…”

As the Sage, Claire, and Eden settled in for a night of Monty Python’s best, their colleague was off in the deepest bowls of the surfer scene in Pembrokeshire. They were a hearty lot, had to be to be able to go surfing in the Irish Sea, never the warmest body of water no matter what time of year. It was all year round wet-suits for this lot.

Rupert left his vehicle in a car-park out of town and firmly locked it. He walked towards town and tried to look like as close to a rambling “surfer-dude” as he could imagine. Rupert had considered dying his hair blond for this one but thought that a bit extreme. This was not his first bit of undercover work, it was just his first in this sort of laid-back beach bum crowd. He headed for the small set of docks to get his bearings. For fear of getting recognised, Rupert turned down several rides into town. Pembrokeshire was not used to The Hitcher style of paranoia about hitchhikers.

A quick stop at the small hotel was all that was needed for him to toss his bag in his room, get his key and head home. The only question after he handed over a few days tariff was if he wanted to breakfast. His grunt was read as a no and that was that.

After stopping into a pub he was not a regular at and asking a few directions, he headed towards his destination. Rupert allowed himself a beer and a few peanuts to calm his nerves. He practiced his gormless surfer from away bit on some of those propping up the bar. As Tenby was used to tourists all year round it didn’t exactly raise any eye-brows. Rupert was rather pleased that his act worked on all but one who recommended the pub he was headed to.

Rupert continued his journey to The White Cliff at a mellow pace, trying to look as if he had lost his way at least once. The White Cliff was a modern-looking pub but one that attempted to blend into the area. Not that it was a problem since the shop area was entirely sea oriented and thus was closed up tight at this time of night. The only place that showed any sign of life was The White Cliff. Despite the attempt at being a welcoming pub, Rupert sense a decent bit of unease as he approached the front door, a feeling that got worse when he gently pushed the door open.

The interior was dark and publike, but lit by slightly covered flaming torches. The entire place had a feel of the south seas. Nets, fishing equipment, and nautical gear covered the walls. There were various sconces with odd statues from the area. It was themed but it was definitely not a themed pub; there were no bar-girls dressed in hula gear, no cheesy tropical drinks, and no rotating pig.

The Sage and Claire tried not worry while they watched their movie and drank their wine. Eden was fast asleep on the Sage’s lap, secure in the knowledge that he would not be going anywhere. They would be unable to get in touch with Rupert. He didn’t have a mobile to add to his schtick. This meant that Rupert would have to find a pay phone and ring them.

Rupert walked into the bar side and strode up to the bar. Most of the patrons ignored him but a few gave him the once over. The merchant navy-looking bar-keep walked up and waited for his request.

“Give me a pint of Stella, please?”

“Fosters is all we got…”

“Good enough.”

Rupert took his beer and found a corner stool. Rupert would wait a bit before he started having a chat with some of the other patrons. It became increasingly clear in not very long that there were several levels to the place. Grim looking sea-faring types talking in hushed voices in various tongues and gormless surfers having a few drinks. There was only one table that contained a mixture of the two. Rupert angled to get involved with the animated chat. There was an empty chair.

“Mind if I join you…kinda dull in the corner.”

“Yeah course mate…you are surfer dude?”

“Uh, yeah. Hear you get some good waves here. Thought I would come down and have a go.”

“Cool,” responded his new surfer pal.

The two others at the table eyed him, but didn’t say much. There was no hostile intent in their looks.

Rupert was about to get very lucky.

“You have to watch out for jelly fishes, though, off some of the beaches. They are big bastards who will drown you, dude.”

Rupert saw the other men flinch. He felt a chill in the air. Naturally the surfer types didn’t take a blind bit of notice; Rupert suspected the strong sweet smell in the air might have something to do with it.

Rupert paused.

“Oh sorry, mate, my name is Dougie. Been here in Tenby for five years. When I get bored I go to Devon for a bit of a change. “

“Dougie, cool. Never been to this bit of Wales before…tried surfing on the North Coast of Wales but it sorta sucked man.”

“Yeah I know…Scotland is a bit crap as well…And they are a lot less friendly in Scotland too.”

Rupert’s pride almost got the better of him, but he covered well. “Really…haven’t tried surfing there yet…”

“Yeah, dude, its sorry that my mate isn’t here… he has travelled all over to surf.” He sighed “He is not as fucking lazy as I am.” He paused again, “it was bummer that he is in hospital after getting dragged down by a couple of those big arse jellies. He almost died, dude. It sucked.”

“Really, man?” Rupert paused and tried to make sure this one stuck. “Have they closed the beaches to surfers? Or are they still open?”

“Yes, kinda, but only the hard-core are back right now.”

“Ah, well, I wanna give it a try.”

“I wouldn’t. Those bastards are nasty as hell. One got me and dragged my arse down…thought I was going to die.” He motioned around. “Ask anyone here that surfs most of em’ all have gotten grabbed at least once. “

Dougie didn’t seem to noticed that the two he had been chatting to for the pass hour hadn’t said a word since Rupert sat down.

“I heard that some bloke in Saundersfoot died by being dragged down. The big jellies attacked and a whole mess of surfers got grabbed.”

Rupert really started to feel uncomfortable. Was he the only one to notice that the non-surfers were looking rather agitated? “Shit, this could get ugly!” His brain screamed to him.

Rupert found himself in the odd position of trying to change the subject away from the one he was after. “So how is it normally, man?”

“Oh pretty cool man, not like Hawaii…but pretty cool,” he smiled. “I have never been to Hawaii but I am guessing this is a shit-load cheaper than living out there. ‘Sides I got a share in the surf-shop in town… got a good place near the sea. It’s all good.”

“Cool..need to settle down sometime myself. Just haven’t found the right girl…”

“Yeah I know dude…fell for some local girl. Well she was from Cardiff, settled down, and then she fucked off to Australia to be with what she called a real surfer.”

“Ouch that sucks man. But you stayed…”

“Yeah, why sell up because of some stupid cow?”

“Yeah…

The evening waned, and they continued chatting about this and that. It wasn’t long before the two silent types left them be and a couple of the other surfer types joined then. Closing time came, and they left without any trouble. It was patently obvious to anyone else who cared to pay attention the rest were not leaving.

Dougie said as they headed off their separate ways, “dudes, let’s meet up: slime time slime place tomorrow.” In a bid to take the piss and does his best Keanu, “it was righteous dudes.”

The lot of them snickered as they wandered off into the night.

Fortunately for Rupert’s interests, Dougie was heading in roughly the same direction as he so he could hang with him to make sure he go home in one piece. No one seemed to be following them, or at least no one that Rupert could detect.

Rupert desperately wanted to follow Dougie into his lodgings to check his room but decided that it might look a wee bit dodgy. Wary as normal, he reluctantly left the surfer and headed for his own inn.

Claire was getting restless, and it was a bit infective, which bugged the Sage to no end. She nearly launched off the chair when the phone finally rang.

“Sage, is that you?”

“No, it’s Claire…”

“Claire I want to keep this short, but I went off to the pub in question. Chatted to a few lads about things. What happened recently has been getting more and more frequent. Although some there weren’t too keen on it being talked about. Plan to meet up with a new mate of mine for drinks tomorrow evening. “ He didn’t let Claire answer and careful hung up the phone in his room. He had carefully warded the room and made sure he would not be disturbed by natural or supernatural means. He finally allowed himself to be taken by the drinks he had had for the evening and drifted off to sleep.

“Rupert?”

“Yes, Sage,” Claire responded. He couldn’t speak for long but managed to not get himself in any trouble.

“Ah, I suspect we will hear more from him tomorrow.” The Sage rose in unison with Eden, “I think I will be off to bed. I seem to be rather tired tonight.” And with that he headed upstairs, leaving Claire to grab the couch and veg in front of the telly trying to forget her worry for Rupert.

Rupert slept soundly, not plagued by his normal caution or the explosion that happened in the wee hours of the morning in the general direction of the docks. He didn’t dream. He even managed to wake up for breakfast.

As Rupert walked down the stairs in his crumpled surfer chic he noticed that the inn owner was rather agitated.

“You don’t mind if I have breakfast this morning?” Rupert asked, “I don’t normally get out of bed this early…”

“Yes, of course, we can handle one more… no problem.”

Rupert guessed he was being sarcastic as there was no one else in the breakfast room.

“Tea or coffee…and will you need toast with your breakfast…I assume the full English?”

“Coffee mate, and yeah toast and full English will work ok…cheers.” Replied Rupert sensing that the owner was dying to ask him something.

Breakfast was quick in arriving and the owner sat down to his own. Cringing, Rupert spoke “so anything interesting going on today? Got some time to kill until I meet up with a few mates to check out the waves.”

“Uh…” responded the owner. “Don’t think you will get any surfing today, it’s covered with police…so is the dock area.”

Rupert perked up and was genuinely surprised, “why, what’s happened, another bunch of surfers get attacked. Some bloke was telling me about it last night?”

“Worse this morning; a couple of early morning dog walkers found several bodies washed up on shore.”

“Oh shit! Dougie!” Screamed Rupert to himself.

“And I suspect the police in the dock area are there about the big explosion before sunrise this morning.”

“Big explosion…I didn’t hear anything!”

“Must have been all the beer then because it woke me right up! Reminded me of my time in Iraq!”

“Oh, well yeah…” Rupert now began to eat quickly. He was quickly deciding whether to head back and get the Sage, to ditch the surfer shit and head down or go as is…”

“Doubt there is going to be much surfing going on in Tenby for quite a few days. They have closed the beach to all but official types.”

“Shit, that sucks. You think there is much point in my sticking around?”

“Doubt it…unless you are some sort of ghoulish sort.”

“Ugh, well I guess that means I am off again. Bugger, really wanted to hang here for a bit. Don’t suppose I can get a refund on tonight’s fee?”

“Well normally I would say no…but since this is an act of god…and I could use your business if you come back.” He paused. “Well, alright, just don’t tell anyone I have gone soft.”

“Ok mate…and thanks. I will go upstairs and get my shit so I can head off. Might try up the coast aways…”

“I hear Anglesey is alright for surfing…you could head there. There is a good bus from Pembroke.”

“Thanks mate,” Rupert rose to head to his room.

“I will have your money for you when you give me back the key.”

Rupert was oblivious as he was trying to remember if he had any spare clothes in the Land Rover. “Bugger did I bring the mobile…shit!’

He was back downstairs and out the door fairly quickly. As he walked back up the hill to where he left his vehicle he tried not too look like he was rushing. Not that the hill made for rushing.

CBC Pembrokeshire lead on the strange goings on in Tenby. After all, dead bodies on the beach were not the usual thing for Tenby. Claire was awake before the Sage and let out a Banshee shriek when she realised what she was seeing. Underwhelmed by the speed of the response, she yelled for the Sage…only to discover he was standing right behind her in his robe, with Eden glaring at her over the side of the couch.

She didn’t have to apologise to the Sage, but Eden was less than impressed. The Sage was not deaf or blind and found himself in the chair, glued to the TV in seconds. Eden was, of course, well and truly miffed at events, looking rather fed up that her morning routine was being disturbed. She flopped herself on the ground with a thunk and stared at the screen. Amazingly, for Eden, the sound of the phone going off did not fluster her.

“Hello, Rupert.”

“Uh, Sage how did you…oh nevermind.” He paused, “I am back in normal clothes and sitting in the Land Rover. Tenby is crawling with police and I suspect fire investigators.”

“Yes and considering the news report I am watching a few reporters as well.”

“Oh bloody hell, not bloody journos again. Shit!” He growled in frustration. “You want me to go down there and see what I can find out? They might not like it very much if you show up and make it obvious it’s occult in nature.”

“I doubt that will be a problem,” the Sage spoke calmly, “they shouldn’t be a problem. I live locally so its only natural I would come by to see if there is anything I can do.”

“Well if you think it is best…”

“We will meet you down by Tenby beach…You might want to see what you can find out about that pub explosion up near the docks.”

“You mean?”

“That would be the one…”

“Was it destroyed?”

“Yes, flattened, took out a few nearby buildings as well. I am surprised you didn’t hear it, suppose to have happened about 4am.”

“Err…bastards!”

“What’s the matter?”

“I wanted to have a look at that place some more before they rumbled me.”

“Ah yes, so it was what you suspected…”

“Yeah, and I think they might have gotten rid of a few of their patrons as well…”

“Oh my…well you go check out the bar or what’s left of it and meet up with us in a couple of hours.’

“I could pick you up…”

“No Rupert check out the bar…” commanded the Sage. “We can get Clive to run us down>’

“Oh alright.” Rupert hung up his phone and started his Land Rover. “He was trying not to think that one of the dead might be Dougie…”

His frustration was not helped when he knew he had to return at a later date to check out the remains of the pub…there was no way he could get near the area.

To add to his sense of being useless, the Sage was already down on the beach when he arrived, and he was cleared through with no problems.

The Sage was looking under a tarp and shacking his head. Claire was standing so that she could not see whatever it was the Sage was looking at. Rupert was not keen on looking at any of the bodies but forced himself to do so. So he sidled up to the Sage who had yet to notice him.

The bodies appearances shocked him and probably made him look squeamish to the dour looking officer next to him. What shocked him was not the fact they were water=logged and dead but who they weren’t. Neither of the two bodies were surfer dudes at all, they were in fact the silent pair at the table of the previous night.

“Odd looking fellows, these two, Sage?” quipped the most senior officer standing around.

“Certainly not local that is for sure…” Which, of course, was an understatement. “I suspect they are used to calling the pacific home rather than the Irish Sea.”

“Quite..” And with that the Sage turned and headed back to the shore. Rupert followed Claire and Eden, silently pleased that his companion the evening before was not one of the bodies.

As they walked into the Sage’s house a while later Rupert managed a quip, “well it looks like a case of tight lips sinking ships.”

“What?” replied Claire.

“I will tell you after dinner.”

“Oh…” responded Claire.

The two men’s bodies were left in a police van in a parking lot next to the beach. The fishy smell that filled the area (more than normal) drove away most on-lookers, even having a strong effect on fisherman. The van was deliberately left on the far side of the car pack, trying to make sure that life would return to normal the next day. Despite the shock of the two deaths and the explosion, Tenby residents slept well in their beds, sure of the fact it was handled. The sea, after all, could sometimes be rather harsh.

The local police however were in for one more shock. One they wisely didn’t make public.

Had anyone been watching at the time of low-tide that night, they might have seen two pale figures shuffling towards the beach. A bright light could be seen on the horizon; a sickly green glow pierced the night’s sky.

It would be a few days before even the Sage found out about that slight twist to the tale.


Leave a Comment