In a Van By the River
by Jeff Baker
It’s evening. It’s beautiful. I can hear the water lapping the bank, if you can call a rice paddy a bank. My ancestors were here over three hundred years ago. They evacuated when the flooding began. Nobody expected it. Nobody expected the waters to recede the way they did either. Something about the Moon being a little off of its orbit and affecting the tides. That may be all bullcrap. Anyway, I’m here now. For a while at least.
Seriously hot today. And the first cloudless day since I got here. Sun could burn the hide right off of you. Glad I got the tent. Sweat a lot but I got to go over my notes. My Great-great-something grandfather’s letters; he was here with the Marinecor I think he called it (I can barely make out his handwriting.) The story, of course, that he met my Great-something grandmother somewhere in this area. She was evacuated and wound up where he was living across the ocean. Nice story, if it’s all true.
For the record, I am, what did they call it “camping,” in a tent when I have a fully stocked van with cooler and all the amenities. I want to get the feel of it, the way people lived back then. I’m cooking the stuff I have here in the cans for dinner. It’s about dusk, the sky is deep blue and I can see the stars coming out. Jupiter is bright and high overhead. The crescent Moon is following the sun behind the horizon.
My Great-Something Grandfather wrote about this area and because of the Marinecor’s knack for specifics I have the old compass coordinates so I was able to find the same location and even managed to find a few landmarks Great-Something wrote about even after the landscape being underwater for two centuries. He mentioned a cave that had been used as a temple near here. Well, tonight’s dinner is something true to the historic period; a meat-product they called “spang,” if I read the handwriting correctly.
Did some exploring and decided to carry the heat shield with me. Hell with historical accuracy, it’s hot! I found the hill which was buried in riverbottom mud and dirt and was hidden, until I almost walked off the top of the hill into a gully created in the interim. I think I found the cave opening, but it is too late and I want to be back at my tent before evening. Read some out of an old-style book I bought that mentions some kind of “cult” in the area that the local monks spoke against. Were the monks using the cave as a makeshift temple during the War? I’ll find out.
Cleared out the opening to the cave today; am filthy. Looks like it was a temple of some sort. Large supporting columns carved with strange symbols. Will investigate tomorrow when it gets light.
Status Report, Year of the Ox:
Tracked subject from abandoned van and tent to cavern locals warn about, why they stay away from area. Local superstition; they believe the old gods brought about the flood and pushed the water back. Found LiOssah. It was his camp-site. Found him at the edge of the cavern. Identified him by his clothing. Flesh torn from body. Bones yellowed at the edges as if they had been dipped in acid and gnawed by giant rats.
Still have not found skull…
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Didn’t have a clue where this was going until I sat down to write it with only the notion of a diary or journal. The original entry made reference to “Moons,” and it wasn’t to be set on Earth! Maybe I copped-out by giving it a quickie horror story ending. Sharp-eyed readers may catch a description I borrowed from a Lovecraft story. The title was cribbed from Saturday Night Live and the late Chris Farley. —–jsb, July 21, 2021, 2:55a.m.