792 words (3 minute read)

Ashore

“Yiri, take a picture of these houses.” Felimine stepped over a pile of driftwood and pointed to a cluster of dilapidated buildings.

“You still haven’t told me how to work this thing, miss.” Yiri pulled Nomoa out of her bag. The creature, known as a camera, was encased in a small box with a lens covering its eye. Felimine had brought from her homeland, claiming that it was a recent invention that would soon become widespread. The creature chirped, its strange eye dilating rapidly.

“Take it easy, she’s sensitive. Just point her at it and pull the trigger on the top."

Yiri took the picture and followed Felimine as she continued further into the village’s ruins, looking at the printed picture that had come out of Nomoa.

The sky had been growing more overcast since their arrival, and the winds had picked up. Yiri suspected a tropical storm was on its way, but Felimine insisted on continuing their search. Her job wasn’t easy, but it was worth the trouble. Uncovering mysteries had a special kind of thrill in it that she had failed to find elsewhere. Sure, she was no professional, but nobody had done anything quite like this before.

The town was called Kipiponu, tucked away in a distant corner of Avadyne. According to the rumors Yiri had told her of, its inhabitants had seemed to disappear quietly overnight. One day it had been there, its people living normal lives of fishing and farming, and the next it was simply gone. With as little outside contact as Kipiponu had, though, such an event could just as well have taken place years ago and only been noticed recently. That would be the case, at least, if it hadn’t been for the fresh corpses reportedly discovered at its beach.

As Felimine stepped through more rubble and through the doorway to a small and cozy home, Yiri slowly following, she felt another gust of cold ocean air. Bile. She’d been told Avadyne was a beautiful country, perfect for a warm, tropical getaway, not the dark and moody gray that she was used to in Endmont. Granted, few people would vacation in such a secluded corner of the isle.

Felimine passed unassuming furniture and simple decorations, all without a speck of dust despite the rubble outside. However, this house’s interior was worn by moisture, the doors and windows wide open for Mercy-knew how long. The wallpaper was peeling and the cushions of the furniture were damp and soggy. The floor’s dark wooden panels creaked at the lightest of steps, yet the town remained eerily silent.

Felimine let out a shaky breath, frosty air forming in front of her mouth. What had happened here?

“Miss, I’ve found something.” Yiri called, his voice somewhat distant. Felimine shook herself from her trance and exited the building. Yiri was farther away, peering at a dark form on the ground outside of a larger house, closer to the shore.

Felimine approached, still unable to discern the nature of the shape. She arrived at Yiri’s side and gave it a closer look.

It was a corpse.

Felimine let out a quiet gasp. It was not human; not quite. It wore no clothes, and its flesh, despite having the general form of a human being, was white and blubbery, covered in barnacles and. The creature had no discernible facial features save for two beady eyes and slits on its neck, akin to the gills of a fish. Light, pinkish blood had bubbled from these slits, as well as from a number of small holes in the skin of its torso.

Felimine felt what little warmth there was leave her body.

“Take a picture, Yiri.” She said, quietly.

“Are you sure, mi-”

“Remember what I told you. We leave nothing out. Everything is subject to be documented; not one sliver of truth shall be missing from this report.” She turned and faced him. “I’m looking to widen our knowledge of the world around us, Yiri. So take the blighting picture."

Her assistant did as he was told, and the chirp of Nomoa broke the eerie silence of the shore. The body still lay there, soulless eyes unblinking. Felimine took a sharp breath and cleared her throat, taking her eyes off the grim and unusual spectacle. Her attention was caught by a lone lighthouse sitting atop a precipice hanging over the beach’s east end. Its tall and slender form pierced through an approaching body of fog. Felimine found that her breath slowed at the sight, becoming more difficult to maintain.

Despite her trepidation, Felimine smirked to herself. This was exactly what she was looking for.