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THE INNSMOUTH SYNDROME



It was only when the indicator light of the car in front began to blink that Carla realised how dark it was getting. The sky beyond the left side windows was still purple with sunset, but on the right it was already black and studded with stars. The other vehicle began to climb the slip road, leaving her alone on the narrow two-lane. Carla flipped on the main beams and pressed her foot down, coaxing another ten miles per hour from the rented Honda.

It was almost seven p.m. and she was supposed to be at the hotel already. Her plane had spent an extra hour in a holding pattern over Logan International because of some security scare. A missing pilot’s uniform or something; she hadn’t bothered to seek out the details. All she knew was that it meant she was going to arrive late, and she was tired, and she was hungry.

The GPS chimed, interrupting a Handel concerto she’d found on one of the Boston stations. “In—two—hundred yards, turn right.” It was the first thing it had said for ten minutes. Carla slowed down.

She was driving past houses now. They had been spaced well apart at first, but were now almost continuous. Modern and shabby, set well back from the street, half of them looked derelict, with flaking paint and broken or boarded-up windows. The mouldering cars beached at the side of the road pointed to some degree of habitation though, and some of the porch lights were on, flickering like angler’s lures in the gloom.

In—one—hundred yards, turn right.”

Carla hunched forward, peering through the windscreen for any sign of the road she was meant to take. She caught a sudden flash of movement in the corner of her eye, and her foot shot instinctively to the brake pedal—only just in time.

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