Photo-prompt Flash Fiction: Answering the Call

The seas had crept higher each year and hurricanes got stronger. Month by month, the Moon’s leering face grew larger as the highest tides of the millennium invaded the land. Rumors spoke of stirrings in the deep, of some new power that made it perilous to live near the sea.

Then came the earthquake, convulsing the entire eastern seaboard. Cities foundered, towns drowned. The oceans climbed the hills and entered every door. Streets once said to be paved with gold vanished under wave-laid ridges of sand. The deep waters touched the things of humans, left their marks and placed their claims.

People abandoned the coastlines and fled inland. Ruins remained ruins. Towers thrust empty into silent skies. Crabs frolicked in the sandy streets by day and seabirds soared above; rats hunted there at night.

The boy had journeyed far. In the turmoil of the time, watchfulness failed in the asylum he had been sent to when his gills emerged. Slipping through an unwatched door, he fled and hid. Travelling by night, he wandered eastward, tugged by an ancient impulse toward the sea. The nights flung vast arrays of stars across the sky. Before she went away, his grandmother had told him their patterns had changed since she was small. She told him he would follow her some day. He knew he had to hasten now, to reach land’s end when the time was right.

Sometimes, the lights glowing from house windows reminded him of sweet, lost things. But always the sea-longing in his blood pulled him away. And there were his gills, of course. They had grown and developed. He was able to swim a long way underwater now and had changed in other ways too. When he raised a hand to the sun, the webs between his fingers filtered the light. The few people who came close enough to get a good look at his face ran away screaming.

The metropolis was a vast labyrinth inhabited by animals grown bold and curious. The boy avoided them, exploring the empty streets by day, finding safe places to hide in at night. He knew this wasn’t where he needed to be. This wasn’t the great undersea city of his grandmother’s stories, or the brooding, ancient town where she was born.

On the night the moon ate the sun, the boy heard voices calling to him. He ran down a long street to the harbour, jumping over the ridges of sand between rows of hollow, blank-windowed buildings. The Deep Ones had arrived. “Iä! Iä!” they cried. “He sleeps no more, he dreams no more. He lives! Come to us, little one!” As the boy approached the desolate, weed-grown wharves, shapes emerged from the sea. His people. They would guide him to the portal in the deeps, where the elders would welcome him home.

Written in response to Diana’s March Speculative Fiction Prompt.

Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft. Image by Natan Vance from Pixabay.


  1. What a great story, Audrey. You created such a rich mood with his transformation and the longing that drove him toward the sea. I loved the feel of this. Totally mesmerizing. I can’t wait to share. 🙂

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  2. Woinderful tale. Now I want the back story–why is he like this? What happens next? I find it interesting that you had an east coast earthquake rather than a west coast earthquake.

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  3. I do like the way this starts out thinking this might be about someone fleeing inland and then turns swiftly. The prose bring the picture of a world in change to life.
    I was dithering over whether to mention ‘Innsmouth’, then oh relief you mentioned it!
    A worthy homage to Lovecraft

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  4. Wow! 😀 Audrey, I love this and was drawn in immediately as you set the scene with great skill and atmosphere. As the boy was introduced the reader imagines just a normal lad, until the crunch of the gills! Wonderfully creative and a perfect ending! Fantastic response to Diana’s photo prompt!

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  5. Hi Audrey, I just found your site through my Reader. This is the first thing I think I’ve read of yours. It’s so rich in sensory detail and really kept me reading. I think I’ll take a look around and hang out for a while.

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