SPOTLIGHT: The Nuckelavee by Mike McClelland


“Nuckelavee!” he screamed.

The eyeless creature twitched in response, moving about above us like an ancient tree wobbling precariously in the wind.

“Guardian of the Veil between land and sea, between east and west, between life and death! The final sacrifice is prepared, and finally my debt is paid.”

Shax and Amon had retreated from the beach and were fanned out behind us along with Kim and Andrea. All of them flanked the wicker cell where my friends still screamed, so my only option for escape would be turn and jump into the water, which was not something I was prepared to do. I moved slowly behind Tavvy, trying to look my most docile and nonthreatening, and tried to catch Tenn’s attention. Rather than react to the beast, shock seemed to have frozen him in place.

Then the thing – the Nuckelavee, I guess – split its toothy slash open and screamed, the smell of rotten sea flesh belching out over all of us.

“Yes, kindred, yes!” Tavvy yelled, his caftan billowing out behind him in the macabre wind.

I stared at the creature, repulsed.

“It looks like a vagina,” Andrea said to Kim.

Her words seemed to awaken Tenn, who puked.

The biker ladies weren’t the only one who thought this, apparently, because I started hearing distinct words emerge from our fleshy column of half-dead friends.

“My God! Not a vagina!” one screamed.

“Vagina dentata! From the sea!” another croaked out.

“I’ve never seen one before – is that what they look like?”

“This feels very Freudian,” another one – probably Ryan, he was such a know-it-all – said.

They were like our own little caged, queer Greek chorus, and it would have been cute if we weren’t watching a massive sea beast open its toothsome vagina-mouth and slam it down upon the roasting corpse of my spit-roasted fiancé.

Kriss had been a gold star gay.

He never ate pussy, and now pussy is eating him.

That terrible voice in my head cackled as it whispered, its laugh sounding like ice scratching on stone.

I wailed, my mournful call lost in wind and the screams and the cracks of flame curling around the beast’s gullet as it sucked up Kriss’s body, its sharp teeth desperately, fervently crushing flesh, bone, sand, wood, and metal as it chowed on him in a frenzy. It produced a low, bellowing, angry growl as it ate, and that was enough to finally break through the Xanax and make my hair stand on end.

After a few seconds that felt like an age, the Nuckelavee raised its scaly form and pulled the lips of its mouth shut like blood-slicked curtains, little bits of Kriss pushing themselves out of the long, lumpy slit like angry ingrown hairs.

Tavvy turned around and caught my eye. Then he stepped to the left and gestured back towards the Nuckelavee with his neck.

Watch, Tavvy mouthed, and smiled as if he hadn’t just imprisoned my friends and fed my roasted husband to a sea beast.

Still, I looked. The Nuckelavee had stepped left as well. Then Tavvy stepped to the right, and the beast did the same. Finally, Tavvy hopped, and the creature hopped as well, sending a huge splash across the lanai and shaking the ground beneath us.

It was the Hokey-Pokey from Hell.

 The beast’s hop must have gotten things moving, because when it landed, it opened a blowhole or something in its back and farted a stream of black gore and bones – Kriss! – into the air.

Kriss’s leg, with its garish Beauty and the Beast rose tattoo wrapped around the ankle, fell down to the ground beside me alongside a spray of monster poo.

My eyes bulged as I realized what Tavvy was doing.

“I made a pact with the Nuckelavee long ago. It would take me from Orkney and bring me here, to a new life, if I promised to feed it. The Nuckelavee cannot just take souls, they must be offered. If we linked our fates, and I brought it to a place where it could have a constant supply of man flesh, then after thirteen upon thirteen sacrifices it would allow me to complete the final ritual and lift the Veil between life and death, allowing me to begin life again. So it lives where I live, it wants what I want, and your Kriss was the one hundred-and-sixty-ninth sacrifice.”

The number made my heart ache.

 Kriss had loved sixty-nining.

“But in order to begin life again, I need a kindred body and kindred soul,” Tavvy said.

I looked over at Tenn, who was staring back at the wicker swirl, tears running down his face, mumbling something to himself. He looked like he was giving himself a pep talk. And he still looked so damned handsome.

Tavvy was monologuing now, and I was trying to pay attention, if only to figure out a way to buy time.

“As a person ages, their soul grows as their body decays. Not many people know this,” Tavvy hissed, and I tried to at least nod along.

“So you can’t just shove an old soul into a young body. You actually can shove a young soul into an old body, but the soul will eat the body before too long. So the Nuckelavee tasked me with finding a kindred soul, which I can then pour as much of my own into it as will fit. Then I’ll put it into a kindred body. Your body. I’ll lose a little of myself, but I can theoretically, live forever. With the Nuckelavee’s help. The Nuckelavee commands the door between life and death.”

The selfish me – which, if we’re being honest, is the dominant me – wanted to say, “I was just thinking how nice Tenn’s body is! Wouldn’t that be a great body to spend some time in?”

But the horror continued to erode the wall formed by the Xanax, as did grief, and I wasn’t go to spend my final moments being a douche.

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