Lori R. Lopez is an offbeat hat-wearing speculative author, illustrator, poet, and songwriter residing in Southern California. Her prose and verse have been published in a number of anthologies and magazines including California Screamin’ (the Foreword Poem), Dead Harvest, The Horror Zine, Weirdbook, The Sirens Call, Spectral Realms, Space & Time, Impspired, Illumen, Altered Realities, Bewildering Stories, Aphelion and several H.W.A. Poetry Showcases. Book titles include The Dark Mister Snark, Leery Lane, An Ill Wind Blows, The Fairy Fly, and Darkverse: The Shadow Hours (nominated for an Elgin Award). Four of her poems have been nominated for Rhysling Awards. Lori co-owns Fairy Fly Entertainment with two talented sons. They’ve formed a Folk Band called The Fairyflies to release original music.
The Creeping Tide
I A calmer day, the Poet in me sat and scrawled upon notebook page a dozen brooding eloquent lines . . . For several windswept decades of sea engulfing shore — as sandy stretches disappeared, coast vanished ever more — inching all the closer with uncertain stealing tread, reaching over beach until the billybirds have fled, I’ve watched the land be swallowed, patiently consumed. What’s buried in the waves might never be exhumed. No matter how covertly the greed of Time’s devour, I see the water rise like growing grass within an hour. The drowning of these properties will not diminish soon. The creeping Tide may less reverse the habits of the Moon, yet actions can be measured; each footprint long endures. How we live a minute shapes the morrow’s least contours. But the day that creeping Tide crossed the line, going too far, driven by a migraine of a tempest, words spilled forth with no meter, no rhyme, just an urgency to record impressions, the sights and sounds battering senses! II Breakers the size of Blue Whales rushed toward walls sheltering a lone fidget from a virulent Climate Gale, unpredicted; blasted by unnatural bellows. The Sea failed, petered out before striking a meager fortress. My cozy stone Cottage weathered many a howler. This was bad, a wild ballyhoo rumpus! And the rain to follow arrived in sheets. A full-fledged Hurricane. Category Three, hopefully not Four. Late to shutter the windows. Glass sundered and flew. A cup of Green Tea shattered on tiles. I stared at the puddle, then scaled a ladder — fleeing the next Surge. Eyes riveted to an Ocular Pane, scribbling madly, I witnessed the metal Propane Tank float away, joined by the dark plastic Septic Tank, dislodged from its grave. Mini-Subs headed to fight unseen, untold, uncharted enemies. Growing up, my family had a tradition, a quirky custom of waving if one of us should enter the Water-Closet. “Elvis went to the Loo,” Mum invoked, “and never came back.” (They lugged him in fact, to an Ambulance; he didn’t walk, didn’t step out again.) A stern reminder, cherish the moment. So whenever possible, we made a point of saying our Goodbyes. Just in case. I dubbed the Subs His Majesty Elvis in honor of The King and Yellow Submarine, Mother being a Beatles Fan from across The Pond. Reflected on glass, I waved a solemn farewell as the pair sailed off. And heard pipes groan, infiltrated, the Plumbing ruptured and invaded. At the rear of the house the toilet jarred loose, rattling. The bathtub drain gurgled and glugged then began to fill. Disturbing sloshes alerted: I wasn’t alone anymore. I’ve had some chance, cloistered in the attic, for speculation over recent events. In particular, the advent of leech-limbed creatures glimpsed from above that slithered and oozed onto my floor coated with a scale-pattern and gray or green mucous — maybe that Slime polluting the Globe, scientifically labeled Snot, mysteriously spread. These aquatic trespassers must have evolved in warming currents to advance like the brine, to survive and inhabit land, to latch our flesh and suck our blood (proved by the small withered animals scattered outside). A second wave of Life to crawl from the Ocean’s womb. Thirstier than the first. Prospects are bleak. Salvation a bolted door, as long as it stands and I don’t perish . . . Downstairs overrun, half-flooded. No way to signal for assistance. Doubtful the Subs will return bearing crews. I used to drink a lot of Diet Sodas, before the Green Tea, with every kind of Artificial Sweetener. I quashed the Cancer Gene, resisted a Pandemic, defeated Heart Disease and bouts of Depression. Boxes of healthy supplies, cartons of shelf-stable Soymilk surround. I liked to stock up, be prepared. And here I am, feeling ill-equipped. High peals emit beyond my refuge. They’re calling, summoning. I hug my notebook, clutch my pen. Spying through a porthole, I scope what remains of beach and ponder, awaiting the subsequent phase to find me.
I’ve got Napalm in my bones; in my soul, my Mortal Coil. Thick as jelly, slick as oil, ready to burn with the shame of a Red Giant dying of conspicuous embarrassment out there where you can’t even scream. Why bother if none will hear? Dimensions unfold, infinite, ever-expanding, composed of Stardust and Moonbeams; untold fantasies, the length and breadth of Cosmic Rays — the type that will likely get lost, swallowed by a gaping Black Hole anyway. (Those are everywhere!) (It’s a good thing I’m nowhere.) The Universe at least has awhile to twist and shape things right, figure it all out. Or so we think! We don’t actually know what lies around the bend of its mind or the loops in its Silly String-like threads . . . The tangled fibers and fabric of Time, Space, and the distance between the two divided by three. Or is it E? This isn’t A Science Lesson. I’m simply going on about nothing; it’s something I do. (Great, I forgot that I need to do laundry!) I’m a bit confused with so much Matter floating around in my head, talking to itself, taking up room, cluttering the Grand Design . . . I just wanted to warn you I may be about to explode or combust from so many chemicals, the bad kind of elements. We are what we eat and breathe.
Water can be an abyss staring back. Or a single drop with a mind of its own! Simple and basic on the surface, leading a clever species like us to underestimate its influence on those who dwell in murky depths — and the scope of its presence while occupying, passing through our bodies. Yet eerily, we are primarily composed of liquids . . . Does an enemy lurk within? Could the Sea rising due to melt-offs be something else entirely: a tedious advance by an exquisitely organized army of one? And what if this encroachment were orchestrated for the wiliest most indirect retaliation: a response to Life escaping, stubbornly exiting the primordial soup, existing apart? I see your faces. Wondering, have I gone mad? Is this a joke? (Static. Transmission broken, then restored.) My fellow Scientists. And friends. Every thought in my head originates from a source of peace. (Interference.) Every word is conveyed and conducted by the moisture in Cellular Tissue; the cup of Green Tea in my fasting belly. A message from Ocean to River, Lake to Reservoir, Raindrop to Canal, Swampland to Bog. Humming in Blood, a Tear, your Saliva. Sung by Humidity. By Perspiration, the morning Dew. By Clouds and thick deposits of Oil. (Sharp feedback.) Listen closely. Come home. All will be forgotten. Forgiven. Your return will be embraced, Your latent Marine-Gills reactivated. It is not too late. We can weather the Storms. Plastic. Pollution. Tsunamis and Floods. Droughts and Wildfires. Pestilence, Pandemics. Gunbattles over Resources. Feuds for Water. But you will be safe. (Garbled transmission.) Protected — within the Sea. (Clipped communication. Mangled speech.) You will be complete. Walk or crawl. (The image wavers.) Come to the Cliff, the Bay. Dive, plunge in. (The face on the screen pixelates.) There are — uncanny wavelengths — our minds can’t regulate! Sinister undercurrents — causing behavioral anomalies! Clashes, unreasonable acts. Hide. Don’t go out! Don’t turn on the faucet, pour a drink. Stay out of the bathroom! Avoid drizzle, fog, snow. Mudpuddles. You can’t trust anyone — brainwashed — Fishfolk — Merfolk — (The visage rends, ripples to bands.) Stay out of the water!! (A calm demeanor. A slight smile.) I apologize for the outburst. Please, ignore that statement. Wires must have crossed. This is an invitation . . . Dismiss my warning. At your own peril! There is no need to panic. Don’t listen! What degree of Free Will I once had is now being harnessed, utilized. It is a simple request. An ultimatum! You must return to the Sea. Or the Sea will come for you.