I stepped off the Ghost Docks and onto the sodden riverbank, a knight on a lonely moor, an Argonaut at sea, a superhero fighting an unknown villain.
The Midnight Man.
Protector of Mort Cheval from the denizens of dread—only I wasn’t in my home city. I wasn’t anywhere. The mist parted without the sky lightening. If anything it grew darker. Closer. Smothering. No sun or moon above, but I could still see under the red-stained sky. Wind roared and I felt nothing. A bell toned, low and resonant over the water like a heartbeat; two short rings followed by a long sustain. Hearing that bell was a bad omen; one meaning I’d been summoned to die.
Like all the others.
I didn’t know where I was, but I knew what I’d see when the mist cleared. A boat. The River Queen.
She didn’t have a name. None I could find. I assumed all who received her dreams gave her their own name, and those names died with them.
I called her Carrie Cthulhu.
There were things even necromancers feared. Things Beyond them. Things as inexorable as gravity. As the tide. Things that hunted them as they hunted humanity. I’ve fought
necromancers, vampires, ghouls, and ghosts, and I’ve put them all back in the ground, but I hadn’t been able to fight the Ghost Docks’ pull.
I hadn’t thought of my grad night in years. It was one surreal thing lost in a sea of them. Everyone said Ron had been drunk. Fell in the river and drowned. He wasn’t alone anymore.
The rumours said Carrie Cthulhu’s dreams found us before we died. She found us before we died. And now, her dreams had found me: a sea carved the continent in two again, as it had been in an earlier time of monsters. She was a glacier scraping the world clean. Within, her bones glinted like moonlight on water, and wreathed in shifting shadows despite their prison. A goddess at the heart of a new sea, or an old sea reborn. The rest of my grad class hadn’t come back from their voyages to her domain. I would.
Superheroes always come back.