Morning comes around with a vengeance. That brutal bastard of a sun comes along all cheery with passive aggressive swagger, peering in through the blinds. Just making sure you’re OK. You are OK, aren’t you mate? Don’t mind me, just blazing like a motherfucker out here. If I could loathe the arrival of dawn with more than one hundred percent of my body and soul I would do. I’d get a limb grafted on just to get up to a hundred and seven. It’s worse knowing the sun has just been lying in wait, hiding out there in the darkness, giving me a few extra hours to think that maybe, just maybe, I’ll fall asleep. But we can’t afford to sleep any more, not alone anyway.
Now that the solar wanker has turned up, there is no further point in pretending I’m resting here. I shake off the grubby duvet I found in a bedroom upstairs and painfully unfold myself from the sofa. It gets cold at night, when you can’t hear things moving around outside. And when you can hear those rustles and rumbles just outside, mere feet away behind a few bricks, the night becomes even colder, yet shot through with lances of hot fear. I could look at this more positively: I have seen the sun again. One more night in which I could have been extinguished has passed uneventfully. From the distant screams that helped keep me awake, not everyone was so fortunate. The sun’s boisterous welcome is a vexing reminder that it’s been some days since I last slept and had the relative pleasure of being surprised by its appearance. There’s something so mocking about the way it creeps up out of the ground, smugly rising till it floods everything with its sick, treacly light. I should be grateful, I know I should. The sunlight scares off the others, those who came out of the Deep. Whether it scares them or they just don’t care for its rays is unclear. Perhaps they weren’t used to the brightness when they dwelled down in the depths. Down there the sun doesn’t reach all the way, colours fading out as the sun tries to go deeper until it gives up and they start making their own light down there.
Last night I watched a huge shadow undulate past this little abandoned cottage. Dark on dark, it slouched and wriggled along, suddenly illuminated by its own internal lighting rig strobing down each of its frilled edges. A warning, a challenge, a greeting to its fellows? No one seems to know much about them. All we do know is that twenty-seven days ago (more or less, I’m losing track of time along with losing sleep and very likely my sense of sanity), something changed. Out of the darkest depths of the oceans they came, slipping by night ashore, vanishing up rivers and in lakes, slithering into swimming pools, sewers and streams, into the plumbing of homes, hospitals and underneath and inside every space we inhabit. The motion was spotted, of course, but it was so sporadic and so hard to follow that for a day there were just reports of mysteries – no different from Big Foot or a UFO; blurry photos, missing people. It was the second night when they emerged from their spaces deep within our lives, unspooling like ribbons from plugholes and taps, shivering into tight masses until they were complete enough to strike.
I had the sheer luck to be staying overnight in our incomplete house, with the water main yet to be connected. That must have been my last good night’s sleep. I woke to a bedlam of sirens and wailing. Overnight the human population had been struck a blow unlike any other in our history. The early estimates on the news – before they too fell and never regained their feet – were that up to ten percent of people everywhere had gone in a single night. Not totally disappeared, mind. The trails of blood and severed limbs had painted every street in the world, all leading to water. Whether it was a nearby pond, storm drain or the red-spattered tiles of a bathroom, they were where people had been dragged to. Mass panic, inevitably. I managed to get hold of my other half, at last. She’d been staying in our old flat, on the twentieth floor – too far, perhaps, for the Deeps to have reached in just one day – and every floor below was a gory ruin. I’d just crashed here after a long day instead of returning home. We’d been lucky to find ourselves in two safe places. We swiftly reunited and began the nightmare together.
The second night was far worse than the first. Now we knew there was a monster gurgling in the pipes, awful sinuous shapes which glowed from within, more and more excitedly as they chased, seized and consumed their prey. Nowhere near water was safe; water is everywhere. Not long after that everything stopped: the news, emergency services, power. It was shocking how fast the town just emptied out of people. Some ran or drove away, hoping to find somewhere safer by the time night fell. We stayed, moving to the edge of town away from both people and monsters. I filled the toilet, plug holes and taps with cement and quick-drying putty. We barricaded the windows and doors and waited for sunrise. Even the sun looked as if it had been smeared with blood that morning.
Even as I stretch and glare out at the sun I hear a grinding sound deep below the floor, a deep judder like something massive battering its way through obstacles. I lean over the other sofa and wake Anne. At least she managed to get some sleep. “It’s somewhere underneath us, smashing through the water pipes,” I whisper as she blinks into awareness, “time to go.” So we do, carefully letting ourselves out of the little cottage that’s been our home for a few days. Outside we’ll be safer than in, if one of those things is working its way up through the dark channels of water that spiderweb the town. Until nightfall anyway.