Being shackled beneath the moonlit waves, still breathing, still screaming, is an odd sensation. I know that'll be my fate soon, if I don't act quickly. So, I want to get my story written before that happens.

I'd always been a swimmer. It was just something that I enjoyed. I was on swim team at school, went to the indoor pool even when it was freezing outside, and treasured my family trips to the beach. I didn't ever think that it would get me in trouble; well, not this kind of trouble, anyway.

I had a summer job as a lifeguard when I was seventeen at the local beach. It was relatively uneventful, as people were surprisingly safety-conscious. I remember my first rescue very, very clearly. I suppose that's mostly because of It.

A little girl, maybe six or seven, had been playing on a sandbar with her mother when an unusually large wave had pushed her into the current. I remember sprinting into the water, running against the pull of the waves, and eventually diving beneath the water. The child was afraid, and had swallowed some seawater, but she was otherwise unscathed.

I had just returned to the shore with the girl and her mother when I heard the noise. It sounded like some kind of underwater explosion, though no one else seemed to take notice of it. I looked around frantically, searching for the source of the noise. That was when I heard It.

Its voice was like that of a thousand people, speaking every language at once. Somehow, though, I still heard, very clearly, the following:

"Your interference in fate has created resonance. You will ascend beyond the confines of your flesh, or be destroyed."

It was an almost female voice that spoke these words, at a volume I could barely tolerate. I was understandably panicked, and quickly found the other lifeguard on duty to tell her that I was going to have to take the rest of the day off.

After I drove myself home, I tried to forget about the strange things I'd heard. It had to have been some prank, some live event... maybe it was the stress of performing a rescue. To distract myself, I decided to check my email. I had only one new message, from a recipient I'd never seen before. I was simply going to delete it, when I realized that it might be from work.

To: Tobias Fletcher
From: <ricardoallen@isiroremtal>
Hello, Mr. Fletcher. I understand that Master has chosen you as its latest disciple. This is a tremendous honor, let me assure you. I know that this all might seem very confusing, but I ask that you remain calm. For any questions you may have, please email me back or see the attachment.


Ricardo Allen
664th Disciple

How'd this guy get my contact info? What was "Master?"

Curious, I opened up the attached file. It was an image that made me nearly break my phone, as I flung it into the air out of sheer terror.

The creature was massive and monstrous. It looked ancient; great clumps of algae sprouted from what I could only guess were scars on what I assumed to be its face, which was covered in an almost rock-like armor. Five indigo eyes stared at me from beyond the phone, two arranged on either side of the center of its "armor" and one above. Two yellowed tusks protruded from its massive, crooked maw, and all on the head of the thing were a multitude of barbed spines. By all accounts, this thing was unbelievable.

My hands shaking, I responded to the email with only, "Please remove me from your contact list." I thought that was the end of it, though I still quit my job as a lifeguard about a week after the incident.

As senior year started, my thoughts were plagued by the monstrous thing Ricardo Allen had sent me. I found solace in my schoolwork, and generally was content, as long as I kept myself occupied. Everything changed, though, when Iris arrived.

Iris Laterom's family had just moved to California from Oregon. Iris was a bit taller than me, had a thin build, and sported shoulder-length hair that was dyed a minty green. She was a senior, and ended up with a schedule identical to mine. Like me, she also worked hard in her academics. We quickly became good friends.

It was about halfway through the semester when some weird things started happening. I started having terrible nightmares featuring all sorts of hellish disasters—cities burning to the ground, innocents being swallowed up by tidal waves and dragged out to sea, and orphaned children dying of starvation in the ruins of developed cities. All of these dreams were dominated by an almighty roar, followed by soft whisperings of an innumerable number of voices. I knew that they came from it.

Iris and I were working on a project for our government class when she suddenly asked me, "Do you know anything about the Darkwatyr Cult Killings?" I replied that I'd never heard of them, to which she explained that, in the past nine years, three people aligned with a cult dedicated to the worship of a forgotten God had disappeared, only to be found a few months later, their corpses mutilated beyond recognition. She said that she'd been researching noteworthy crimes in the area for an extra credit assignment in psychology, and that this one stood out to her. I wasn't so sure about the validity of that statement.

Four days later, I received a strange email, like the one I'd gotten in the summer.

To: Tobias Fletcher
From: <silvianichols@isiroremtal>
Dear Mr. Fletcher,

My name is Silvia Nichols. Master has commanded me to give you important instructions, which you must not disregard as you did 664's. As your immediate predecessor, I must inform you that failure to comply with your orders will result in immediate destruction.

Isiroremtal is an ageless, immortal being of great power and light. It is our Master, and bestows great gifts to its obedient Disciples. It selects individuals with whom it resonates. You are the 666th of our order, which has spanned all of time. With the advent of heightened technology, Isiroremtal has had more opportunities for resonance than ever before.

What you must do on the preordained date is this: 1. Return to your location of resonance. It will be a watery place. 2. Enter the water of the place of resonance. 3. Cry out the name of our Master, Isiroremtal, the Sea-Darkener. 4. Be rewarded with the ultimate gift: ascension from mortality into an Aghlärghu, the species of the Master.

Failure to perform the required actions will result in your destruction. A Disciple is rewarded every half-year. My time will come in two days. You have six months after that date to prepare.

I wish you luck.

Silvia, 665th Disciple

I was so shaken up by the email that I completely forgot to print it out the next day, to show to Iris. The day after that, I took the printed email to school. Iris looked at it, and told me, very seriously, to meet her behind the cafeteria after school was over. To my utter shock, she didn't come to any of her classes that day.

When I went behind the cafeteria, I found Iris curled up underneath a bench, facing away from me. I went over to make sure that she was all right. When I tapped her on the shoulder, she rolled onto her back, limply. I screamed. Her face was gone. In its place was the face of Isiroremtal. It sprung upward at an impossible speed, swung its hand to my lips, and hissed, "Stay silent."

I blinked, and Iris' body was gone. In front of me sat a semi-translucent form of a massive creature. Its front arms were almost humanoid, except that they ended in massive, hook-like structures, and its lower torso was comprised of gargantuan tentacles. The face that stared down at me was identical to the one I'd seen in the 664th Disciple's email attachment. I looked up at it and asked, "Isiroremtal, the Sea-Darkener?"

It stared back down at me and made a strange, almost purr-like noise. "Yes," it said, with its thousand voices, Iris' the most clearly heard. "I had to deceive you to judge your worth. You are worthy of being my kin."

"I'm not going to let you turn me into... well, whatever you are! I'm not getting turned into that!"

Isiroremtal looked down at me, almost in sadness. "I do not wish to destroy you. You would make a valued companion. My species was destroyed at the beginning of this world. My Disciples will rebuild the Aghlärghu."

It turned away from me, its tentacles shifting its position gracefully. "If you do not comply, I will shackle you to the sea-floor. You will breathe, but not move. Your death will not be my mind. Instead, you will die from thirst."

With that, Isiroremtal's projected form faded into nothingness. I almost pitied it, though my instinct to survive overruled my pity. Both of those things were overruled by fear that night.

I had another nightmare, though this one was the most disturbing of all those I had experienced. It was a first-person dream. I was standing in my room, when, suddenly, the walls fell away. I was at the seafloor, and, to my surprise, I could see everything around me. It wasn't distressing at all, as I could breathe, and wasn't cold, until I turned my head to the right. I saw a creature like Isiroremtal, though it looked far younger. Its face was armor-less, exposing its blue-green flesh. Its eyes were bright orange, and pierced the haze of the water disturbingly well. I tried to run from it, but my feet would not move. When I looked down at them, they appeared to be fused into the sand beneath me. The Aghlärghu turned to me and said, softly, "Do not be afraid, Tobias. It's me, Silvia." I stared at the thing in shock. In response, it seemed almost to smile. "There is no reason to fear us. We are no less human than you." After saying this, Silvia swam away. I tried desperately to free myself from the sand, but to no avail. Realizing the hopelessness of the situation, I screamed and screamed, praying that someone, somewhere would hear me.

Every night since then, I've dreamt of the seafloor, except that there is no Silvia to comfort me. Last night, however, the dream changed. I was free to move in the ocean, my vision enhanced. The waves and currents did not affect me. I felt liberated and powerful. Isiroremtal appeared to me in its physical form, and we danced among the waves, all the while telling jokes and stories, as Iris and I used to.

I know now what I must do. I stand at the beach where I used to be a lifeguard, and as my life as a human comes to an end, my life as an immortal Aghlärghu begins.

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