A deep rumble off in the distance interrupted Marlowe’s brutal rendition of “He’s So Vain” with a sour note. She already couldn’t sing a lick, but that didn’t bother Edie one bit. Edie was kind like that, just enjoyed listening to her soulmate’s voice, and still did after forty beautiful years together. The rhythmic rocking of their houseboat brought an ease to the sunset they were watching. About three and a half glasses of wine in, Edie in particular was feeling buzzy and relaxed.
“Storm’s comin’,” Edie said as she kicked back in her seat on the deck. “My bum knee always knows, been that way for…ohhhh-”
“Lemme guess, ‘bout fifteen years now?”Marlowe mocked with a gentle smile. “Edie, how many times have I heard you say that? Don’t matter anyway. Of course a storm’s comin’! We just heard thunder, as it so rudely interrupted my singing.”
“You want me to go kick that thunder’s ass, Marley?” she asked after a long sip from her glass, standing and shaking a fist at the sky. They’d spent so much time on the water that even a few drinks wouldn’t rid Edie of her sealegs. “Nobody interrupts my baby’s singin’! Ya hear me?!”
“No, no, you don’t have to fight nature herself on my behalf, though I do appreciate the sentiment. But if a storm is on its way, we might better head back to the docks. No need to get stuck in the gunk, right?”
“Yeah, yeah, can I finish this glass though? I just poured-”
Another rumble off in the distance interrupted Edie, this time though, the boat itself seemed to vibrate with the sound, forcing Edie to grab onto the railing to steady herself.
“Jesus,” Marlowe said, rising from her own seat to help her wife back inside. “That was…that didn’t feel like any thunder I’ve felt before. You ok?”
“Oh, I’m feelin’ fiiiiine, Marley, don’t you worry about me. Let’s get back to the dock, maybe get ourselves some Waffle House or something. I need greasy food to pair with this delicious, tasty, delicious wine we’ve got here. Can you function while I maybe lay down for a minute?”
Marlowe laughed as she led Edie down the narrow stairwell into the cabin. “I’ve been steering this boat for a while now - think I might have the hang of it finally after all these years. Rest up.”
Marlowe got to work turning the boat around as Edie laid on their bed, hoping the spins wouldn't get to her this time. She knew closing her eyes would welcome the spin cycle, so Edie instead focused on the small stack of books sitting on her nightstand, constantly waiting to be read.
Miles away, deep beneath the surface, the ancient, colossal creature that caused the deep rumble was moving through the depths with speed. After bursting through the mantle and then the ocean floor, cracking the tectonic plate, it sensed thousands- millions- of living things dancing with life around the sea, but two in particular stuck out. It sensed in these two beings…fear…and…love? Placed deep beneath the earth’s surface by something older than humanity itself, trying to escape every second of every day since, the beast called to its new quarry, sending shockwaves that reverberated outwards for miles, eventually striking the lonely houseboat making its way back to the coast.
Marlowe gripped the railing and felt the vibrations. “Couldn’t have been thunder…”she murmured to herself as she pushed the houseboat faster. “That felt like…no…”
“Marley, what’s going on?” Edie said, suddenly appearing in the doorway. “Sorry to spook you, but no way this is a storm. Not a cloud in the sky, and that sound…it came from…under us.”
“You felt that too?” Marlowe asked. “Shit, I was hoping it was a hallucination.”
“Nope,” Edie said while looking over the railing down at the water. “Y’ain’t lost it yet.”
Something dark and immense passed underneath the boat as Edie stared downward. “Y’know, I might’ve spoke too soon, Marley. This thing go any faster?”
“It’ll be pretty choppy, and I don’t want you to get sick after-”
Another roaring boom interrupted Marlowe, violently shaking the houseboat from below. Edie, who’d been standing near the side on her wine-wobbled legs, toppled into the quaking water with a yelp.
Marlowe cried out and slammed the boat to a stop, desperately searching for signs of her wife and seeing nothing but vast, unending ocean. “Edie! Edie, come on!” she yelled with no response, finally grabbing a lifejacket and diving in.
Edie had always been the stronger swimmer, so Marlowe knew something was terribly wrong for her to not be near the surface. The water around her thrummed and began to heat rapidly, like being enveloped in a vibrating electric blanket.
Going against every warning her body screamed, Marlowe dove under the surface and was shocked to find her wife floating about fifteen feet down, unmoving.
A scream was pulled from Marlowe’s mouth, forcing her to take another gulp of air before diving back down. As she attempted to pull Edie by the arm, Marlowe felt resistance and saw that her eyes were actually wide open, staring down into the black depths below them.
The darkness threatened to engulf them as Marlowe struggled to pull Edie upwards when suddenly, a vast eye opened from the depths. Big as a football field- maybe two or three even- with no sign of an iris, just an endless pupil that seemed to be pulling them downward.
Pumping her legs and arms to no use, Marlowe gripped Edie as she felt herself drift farther and farther from the surface. Terror and adrenaline filled her veins and she noticed that Edie had a blank smile on her face as she stared into the eye.
The water around them vibrated and warmed once more, and Marlowe felt a rhythmic thrumming that seemed to convey a comfort rather than horror. That warm blanket just felt…right. Marlowe felt any fear melt away as her gaze found the endless eye pulling them closer, same as Edie. Out of the growing haze of her vision, Marlowe could barely see the miles-long tentacles and other contorted limbs on the other side of the eye.
Marlowe was reminded of her grandmother’s electric blanket that kept her toasty and snug as a child, and finally closed her eyes and let her body relax as the darkness took them.
She awoke with that exact same feeling in a bed…their bed, next to the still-sleeping Edie. Marlowe brushed away some of Edie’s bedhead and kissed her cheek.
“Mornin’, sweetheart,” she said. “Last night was…hm, do you remember anything?”
“Mmmm wassat?” Edie groggily said. “Got drunk, slept great…yet…not hungover? A Christmas miracle! You?”
Marlowe gazed out their window into the calm, morning water for a long while before finally answering.
“Nah…don’t remember a thing. Must’ve gotten tanked too. Hey, you like books. I got a weird question: you ever read any Lovecraft?”
“I try not to read stuff by horrible racists, so nope,” Edie laughed. “Why d’you ask?”
“No reason. Come on, I’ll make you some coffee.”