Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Venture on the Seawall

We walk south along the ruins of the seawall, our slim path an old trail cut halfway up the wall's thirty or so feet. Below us, the seawater scatters against the sharp moss-ridden boulders of the inlet, sometimes reaching as far as the lowest masonry of this laboriously crafted stone jetty. As we walk, our eyes are set on the high wall blocking any movement inland, waiting for the rare moments where our angle will change just enough to bring our destination into view - the imposing cathedral spire on a far-off mystery building, somewhere on the property of the nearby college but beyond the reach of its roads.

"Tonight, we finally find out what's inside..." I boast prematurely. "Maybe, if we're lucky, find an explanation for those strange lights..."

"Shhh..." one of my companions urges. "I think we're going to have to pass through this house - I guess the stairs up must be a little further south."

Down the path, I can see the house as it juts out from the wall into the sea itself - a dark, wooden giant, its pre-Victorian architecture a remnant only slightly less ancient than its surroundings. We follow the path as it slices through the center of the building, through an unlit tunnel lined with windows and glass doors, through which we can see the moonlit interiors of several ornate rooms apparently subdivided into small apartments. One room, stockpiled with a collection of grandfather clocks, also shows a sleeping figure on a bed, probably a resident but possibly a watchman. Straining to remain quiet, we tiptoe through the passage quickly.

The path leads out into a small courtyard, its west end open to the sea. There are no stairs up, but after the path winds around the steep and narrow pit in the yard's center, it straightens into an eroded stairwell, which leads down to the rocky shore and around a blind corner. The bottom of the pit is home to an unkept garden, the plants long dead thanks to the wall's several holes, half-submerging them in a bed of stale seawater.

Hurrying to escape the sight of the silent house behind us, one of our number pauses to examine his shoe. "God damn it... I stepped in shit!" The rest of us pause, and looking more closely at the path find it to be a maze of excrement, a fecal minefield to slow our progress. We move cautiously, eventually making our way to the stairway, where avoiding the barely visible traps becomes even trickier. 

Halfway down, a figure suddenly slinks out of the garden and onto the stairway, standing up to become visible under the moon above.

"It's some kind of a... llama or something," I observe. "Probably where all this shit came from."

One of the others points, as the creature moves towards us. "That's not a llama... it's like, a huge white monkey!"

Panting heavily, the llama-monkey starts pounding on its chest, a familiar show of aggression. As my cohorts try and navigate the stairs in reverse, I move closer, willing to risk a fight with the beast to see the world around the corner. Suddenly, the creature reaches to the ground, taking a healthy handful of its own stool, which it brandishes at me aggressively.

"Shit!" I exclaim appropriately, and duck against the wall, barely avoiding the muddy cannonball as it whizzes past. I look back to see the creature reloading, ready to fire again at a range too close to miss. Thinking quickly, or not at all, I dive off of the stairway, leaping over the garden below and luckily finding a grip on the missing stones of the wall opposite. Above, my companions reach down to grab my hands, their faces wide with confusion.

Across the pit the llama-monkey is cackling, throwing any lump it can find in our direction. Fortunately, its aim is poor, and the slimy bullets splatter against the wall instead of my back. 

Several tense seconds later, I am pulled back onto the path, where our group breaks into a run before we are even entirely back on our feet. Behind us, the llama-monkey now climbs the wall himself, an outraged look on its grotesque face as it leers at us over the ledge.

We race through the tunnel, past the room of clocks where the sleeping man is now awake and bewildered, and past the other rooms where a unknown number of unseen residents can be heard shuffling about, woken by the noise. By the time we reach a safe distance, the house's windows have filled with candlelight, the technophobic residents no doubt outraged at these new transgressions by the modern world.

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