artwork by http://www.callmeplisskin.co.uk/
vignette below image by me
Intrepid and plucky amateur private investigator Daphne Amsel crept through the creepy graveyard, her camera and notepad at the ready. She knew that at the moment, she was a walking (creeping) cliche, the kind of setup that cheesy stories and bad TV crime shows were predicated upon.
But that didn’t matter to Daphne. The pretty redhead had been investigating mysterious disappearances of young women from this neighborhood. Together with her roomate, intrepid and plucky cub reporter Cate Aptive, and her owl, Arcturus, she had identified this graveyard as the likely scene of the crimes.
Her focus was unwavering; her resolve firm; her sense of self-preservation non-existent. She couldn’t rest until she knew what had happened to the missing women. She felt overly confident, since Arcturus was watching over her, while Cate waited by the entrance watching the street.
Suddenly, deeper within the graveyard a bluish light appeared, suspended in midair. A low rumbling sound became a low roaring sound as the light grew in diameter and seemed to begin swirling. A whistling sound began to grow in intensity and the trees began to sway as a rush of air seemed to be sucked in toward the blue light, which was flattening into a blue disk.
A lesser intrepid and plucky reporter might have chosen to flee at that moment. But not Daphne. She stared intently at the blue swirling disk. “I’ll be darned! An interdimensional portal! That’s so pretty!”
Daphne raised her camera to capture the sight. Fixated as she was upon taking a picture, she did not see the shadows of figures taking shape in the center of it.
Arcturus, watching from a nearby tree, tried to get her attention: “Hoot. Hoot.” Arcturus was loyal but frustratingly hard to understand. And owls in general were known for being rather dickish anyway. By the time Daphne noticed the two figures, they had already stepped forth from the portal.
They were short creatures, humanoid overall but with oddly shaped heads and several short tentacles emerging from where their nose and mouth might normally be. Daphne noted that they were remarkably Lovecraftian—like a poor man’s Cthulhu knockoff.
“My goodness,” she breathed breathily. “Those are legendary Squiddly Diddlys! Here, in front of me! If I can just catch a picture of them, I’ll be legendary, too!” She raised her camera.
Unfortunately, Daphne didn’t always think things through. For example, the fact that her camera had a flash attachment. And that setting off a flash in a darkened graveyard might attract the wrong kind of attention.
The Squiddly Diddlys froze in place as the flash illuminated the scene. Temporarily blinded, they could not see the origin of the flash. They turned this way and that, searching the night while Daphne remained as still as possible. Would they see her? The night itself seemed to hold its breath.
One of the creatures raised his tentacles up into the air, as if sniffing around despite the fact that the canon of tentacles never really mentions olfactory abilities. Suddenly the creature whipped his head around and looked directly at Daphne. They had caught her scent! (And a lovely scent, it was).
Finally, a flicker of Daphne’s self-preservation surfaced, and she began to run. Unfortunately, as her roommate Cate would confirm, and Arcturus would grudgingly agree, Daphne was ‘clumsy as fuck.’ She barely took ten steps before she stepped on a low gravestone, snapped the heel off one shoe, and fell to the ground with a helpless and hopeless thud.
Immediately the Squiddly Diddlys were upon her. For creatures with tentacles, they were remarkably dependent upon their hands, and produced coils of rope to bind her. It appeared that Daphne was indeed about to learn what had happened to all of the missing young women.
“Arcturus!” She called out. “Help! Get help! Get Cate!”
Arcturus simply remained on his perch watching as Daphne was fully restrained and the Squiddly Diddlys began to drag her toward the swirling portal. He knew that if he did summon Cate, well then Cate would also become just one more missing girl. And then who would buy him his favorite freeze-dried mouse snacks? It was better to just not get involved, he thought.
Owls are kind of dickish that way.