There are many strange and inexplicable things on the island, most of which you wouldn’t want to meet on a dark road at night, or even in weak sun at noon. There are weird beasties, worrying fogs, and innocuous-looking birds that scream. There are things that have been around as long as the island. And there are also things which have, perhaps, been around longer…
You might know them as the Agents of Change, or the Ocular Ones, or even the Aunties. Personally, they refer to themselves as Mildred, Ludmilla and Gertrude. They spend a lot of time floating around in saltwater, glaring at anything stupid enough to try eating them.
Their story, or at least a version of it, goes something like this: the island appeared. It came from somewhere. Ludmilla says it rose out of the ocean, Gertrude says it emerged from the fog, and Mildred says there was a geological phenomena involving an underwater volcano. All three agreed that it was messy and inconvenient, and for some time (a century or so) the Aunties were quietly outraged and considering how they might get rid of this lurking growly thing.
It was Gertrude who pointed out the persons.
“Well,” said Ludmilla, “I don’t know what they think they’re doing here. It’s not as if they’ll survive.” and she blinked her three eyes furiously.
“I don’t think it’s their fault,” Mildred warbled, “there’s bits of shipwreck everywhere.”
“Well that’s what you get when you sail ships close to mist-covered cursed places,” harrumphed Ludmilla.
“Oh the poor dears, they are trying,” trilled Gertrude, “look, they’re building things.”
“Bet they don’t even last a century,” said Ludmilla, and, after a pause, “That’s no way to go about building a house.”
The Autnies watched. They had a lot of eyes, after all, and the island couldn’t exactly get rid of them (even though it wanted to). It became clear that the island wasn’t letting its people go anywhere either.
If asked who started helping first, the Ocular Ones would shift and point tentacles and say things like: “I can’t very well go letting them eat that muck no can I?” or “Built his house right next to a soft spot in reality; of course I moved the whole thing!” or “Help is a strong word really, I just move resources around.” And if doing all this happened to remind the island who had been there first, well, that was merely a happy coincidence.
They did notice that, after a while, there were rather a lot more sea-beasts, some of whom thought that snacking on the Aunties was a valid life-option. The island, it seemed, was not happy with their meddling. Ludmilla, Gertrude and Mildred knew how to deal with fanged beasties though, and if they meddled a bit more and kept an eye on that nice young fisherman, well, all was well wasn’t it?
And then there was yet another beastie, sinking into the water.This beastie was different. This beastie wanted to change. And change was what the Aunties did.
Mildred made sure the nice fisherman found the now baby and took it home, and the three of them together made sure it would be mostly people-shaped. And then the Ocular Ones settled in for an interesting few years keeping an eye on the newest inhabitant.
“After all,” said Gertrude, “we’re almost like her parents now.”
“Hrrrummph,” said Ludmilla.
“Oh hush,” said Mildred, “we’ll miss all the interesting bits if you don’t quiet down.”
And they turned mobile eyes back towards the island, waiting…
Written by the entirely amazing Meredith Debonnaire
. (We are fans of her work, obviously. She writes about Tantamount
, which is probably a sister town with Hopeless, Maine. You can also find Angel Evans right about…here