Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 5, part 3.19

Posted by harmony0stars on March 29, 2010

The trip to Innsmouth was quite possibly the most tedious drive Chester had ever been forced to bear. He could remember childhood road trips which had only been marginally worse, his parents too busy pretending not to loathe one another to pay much attention to their unhappy son. It had been a blessing when they’d finally given up and divorced. For years, Chester had feared he was going mad, as his senses told him one thing while all other evidence pointed to the contrary. It didn’t help that his parents wanted nothing to do with the aquatic legacy on both side of the family that had produced their unfortunate child. If he had been born in Kingsport or Innsmouth, his gifts would have been discovered quite early and encouraged. As it was, he’d had to wait almost two decades before he found his way to Kingsport and his people.

Father Miguel drove the truck as he had since before Chester came to Kingsport, staring the younger man down when he even dared offer to do the driving. “Go ahead and watch the scenery, boy. I’m not so old I can’t still drive,” he said without smiling.

It was just as well that they followed the highway for most of their journey. So many people passed them on the road that Chester began to fear that they might get pulled over for driving too slow. He began keeping his eyes peeled as much for police as any sign of Glory’s motor home. Whenever Chester was certain Father Miguel was otherwise occupied, he glanced in the rearview mirror but saw no sign of anyone attempting to follow them. Still, he tried not to feel dispirited. After all, she wouldn’t want to be seen, would she?

At least on the back roads, no one was flying past them, a hand glued to the horn. On reaching the back roads however, Miguel drove even slower, not that Chester blamed him. Very few of the roads leading into Innsmouth were paved, and those that were hadn‘t been cared for in a very long time. Rutted and pitted with potholes, they was probably just as the people of Innsmouth preferred them. There was, after all, some measure of safety in being inaccessible by car in an age that relied on them almost exclusively for overland travel.

Father Llugh slept fitfully, waking up whenever his breathing became labored. Chester had stowed an entire case of bottled water under the seat, but between the three of them, he began to worry that they’d run out before they arrived safely in town. The forested land they drove through gave way to hilly scrub and then miles and miles of desolate salt flats with barely enough solid ground for a road, let alone a hillock sturdy enough for grasses to take root. There was literally no brush for anyone to hide behind and once again Chester worried that Glory would not be able to find her way into Innsmouth without being seen and captured.

Chester saw a few herons which took flight as they passed, but the only company they had on their long trip through the badlands around Innsmouth was the monotonous sound of bullfrogs. The stinking wetlands slowly gave way to hills again and going round a bend, they were suddenly in Innsmouth. It was as if the town had been lying in wait like a feral animal, ready to spring on whomsoever approached.

If he had come upon the place by accident, Chester would have assumed it was abandoned. The buildings, at least on the outskirts of town, were decrepit having fallen in on themselves years ago. And this was where his people were talking about returning? It was ludicrous. The roads had been paved at one time by brick, but many of these had been dug up by the elements or by hand, he couldn’t be sure. Miguel deftly steered the truck over the desecrated road as if he knew where every pothole lay. Maybe he did. They finally stopped when they came to a building that had long ago collapse into the road, blocking any further progress towards the town’s center.

“This is where we stop, boy,” Father Miguel announced almost jovially, a rare mood for him. He took the key out of the ignition, but continued to sit in the truck.

Chester was just about to ask if he should wake Father Llugh or get out and see to the barrel in the back of the truck when men poured out of the surrounding buildings like a wave. Many of them were armed with homemade weapons, scythes and rusted machetes. Some even carried ancient firearms which he doubted would work, not that he would have wanted to take his chances. To a man, they were a grim and humorless bunch, glaring hard at the interlopers as they surrounded the truck. If they recognized Fathers Llugh or Miguel, they gave no sign. More than ever Chester was glad he had not come to Innsmouth, despite the urging of his dreams.

Father Llugh stirred in the silence. “Ah, we’ve arrived.” Patting Chester’s arm as if could sense the younger man‘s anxiety, he said, “Don’t worry. Father Dag or one of the other priests will be here soon.”

As they waited, Chester had time to observe his kinsmen. None of them wore clothes which did not appear to have been cobbled together from scraps. If someone had told him that these people had been stolen from some medieval town, he would have believed it. Only the crumbling remains of buildings and street signs betrayed the sense of archaism the gathered men exuded. It was not that they were dirty or ill groomed, though many of the men were, but that they were altogether too thin and ragged to belong to the twenty-first century. His heart went out to them even as they stared at him with near unthinking malice.

The people of Kingsport would never be able to live in Innsmouth, not if they knew of the privations of the people they had left behind. Some of them might be moved to offer food, clothes, and money, but even the people who still inhabited Innsmouth should not have even been living there. The place was a wreck, no work having been done to repair the town since the third raid in 1974. Maybe they had intended the deterioration of the town to deter further attacks, but things had clearly gone too far. These people needed food by the look of them, and some of them, medical care. How could Fathers Miguel and Llugh come here, year after year, and not see how badly off their people were? How could they not even ask for donations of food and clothes from the congregation to accompany the annual blood tithe?

to Book 5, part 3, page 20

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2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 5, part 3.19”

  1. Alderin said

    Yeah, their church really seems to suck rocks… or would that be considered a racial slur referencing bottom feeders?

    “way into Innsmouth without being see and captured.” see -> seen

    *HUGS*

    • Ha! That is a great insult. I’m going to have to remember it.

      Thanks for catching the typo. Boy, no matter how well I think I’ve caught them all, one typo always manages to swim free of the net.

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