THE WAY IT WENT DOWN: THE LADY OF THE ROCK

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People have seen the Lady of the Rock for maybe, what, eighty years? A hundred? A mermaid, a ghost. In our town, there were a thousand stories. Everyone knew about the ghost town — Innsmouth — though no one could agree just what had happened there. But the Lady was part of it. 

The rock was a marker to the inlet. A scar of stone jutting from the sea like a rotted tooth. When I was a girl, I’d bicycle out to Abel Point and look at it, sometimes, scaring myself on the way home from municipal, thinking about her. Thinking about the Lady in the tunnels beneath that rock.  

Thirty-two years later, I was crawling across that same rock in the rain, on the night of new moon.

Life can be strange sometimes.  

I was looking for a carving on the stone. I didn't even know it was the same place until later. It didn't occur to me. I wasn't driving. It was dark.

You'll find, the more you deal with this stuff, the more these coincidences happen.

It was raining, and Albrecht was screaming from the boat, trying to train a bobbing light on the rocks. I found it, then, the mark, and took out the camera. Then the light fell on her.

She wasn't a mermaid, or a ghost. She was real. Above the waist, she was an old woman with bulbous black eyes, and an empty slot with hundreds of tiny, flinted teeth. Below the waist,  just outside of the light, her hips shifted and exploded into a dozen flapping limbs which somehow supported her weight.

Her eyes found me, and her mouth turned up in a smile until it looked like it would connect with her eye sockets, and the center of her face would spill out. Like when you pop the top off of a Jack-O-Lantern and its guts spill out.  

 A finger like a chicken bone wrapped in sausage skin rose to her mouth. Shhhhhh, the gesture said. 

We stood there for maybe ten seconds like that. Rain and Albrecht shouting. Then, I snapped a picture of the symbol, and ran back to boat.

You can see a part of her shadow in the picture.

And that's how I finally met the Lady of the Rock.

Are we done?