There is a Shadow Here

I don’t know who thought Innsmouth would be a prime candidate for gentrification, but then again that’s probably why I don’t have the money to invest in the project in the first place.  Not that it must have taken much money to snatch up the property, as the town could probably be bought on the cheap even before the bottom fell out of the real estate market.  Innsmouth’s dense construction was at diametric odds with it sparse inhabitants, the majority population having long fled over the years to leave behind only those diehards with family roots so deep they didn’t know of a time where they did not hail from Innsmouth.   People with their peculiar, wall-eyed piscine countenances, and their strange church that didn’t preach any gospel I’d ever heard of.  People who did an excellent job at neglecting the town, because they sure as shit weren’t any good at fixing the place up.

But even the most deeply rooted folk could be convinced to leave for the right price, and they left Innsmouth in all its dilapidated glory behind.  You’d be hard pressed to find a single structure in city limits that wasn’t slated to be leveled and developed anew.  This town has more broken windows than intact ones, all the paint on the buildings having long since peeled and bleached to the point that everything is a uniform shade of weathered gray.

I guess the waterfront is supposed to be the prime attraction, same as it is at most any other beach town.  Innsmouth somehow manages to turn this notion on the head, as its waterfront proves to be the nadir of the town’s character, the victim of corruption and decay that seems to have crept from the sea and made steady progress inland over the years.  The buildings near the beach aren’t just run down, they lean up against each other at worrisome angles, their crumbling wooden construction the same shade of nothing as the sand on the shore.  There are derelict boats here, all arranged like markers in an forgotten graveyard where there must have once been a harbor that has long been filled in by sand.  It is as though the town decided on a whim as a collective whole to abandon their seagoing vessels to the grip and left their craft where they sat.

The tide line is marked by a swath of black decomposing biomatter that fills the air with a noxious perfume of overly salted compost baking in an oven as it lays out in the open as the beating sun heats the sand.  The scent is heavy, and is possessed of substantial body beyond that of normal odors, the way it fills your nose and rests unwelcome upon your tongue. Somehow the waves come up high enough to deposit new detritus and replenish the cycle of decomposition, yet never manages to sweep any of it back into the sea from which it came.  While fundamentally repulsive to people, the seagulls find it to be a smorgasbord of delights to their indiscriminate tastes, and they add their own copious foul leavings to the stomach-churning mess.

The sand itself conspires to hinder your ability to leave this place, being of some unusual granularity and grit unique to this small stretch of shoreline.  It gives just a little too much than what you’d expect when you put your foot down, and then sucks a little too much as you go to your lift it.  A trek down the beach becomes a laborious affair, each step taking twice the effort that it should and threatening to send you toppling to your hands and knees.  The unrelenting grayness of it all makes Innsmouth seem perpetually mired in gloom, even during the height of summer at full noon.  Your eyes may perceive no clouds in the sky, but your heart beats in your chest to tell you that your senses deceive you.

The water is a blue so dark it’s nearly black, the ground unexpectedly dropping precipitously into the impenetrable depths only a few meters from shore.  Watching the water is an unnerving experience, as you can never shake the feeling that something out there is watching you back.  An unseen malevolence lurking beneath the waves, watching you with unblinking eyes and incomprehensible alien intelligence.  Stare at it too long, and the lapping of the waves gets to sounding like a burbling, ceaseless giggling.  Like this sunken presence enjoys the fact that you’re paying it attention.

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