Caruthers looked down at the steely current, the waves lapping up and crashing into the rocky cliffside. He scoured for a ledge to hang onto, any small island of rock to offer respite from the relentless ocean’s torment.
His erstwhile companion, Marquette, kicked a pebble over the crag, which fell into the swirling waters below.
“Three people cast themselves into the ocean at this location. Three weeks later, near identical people appear clothesless, no personal belongings at a university in Desperado. They are kept in a secure facility, as you know, and are catatonic.”
Marquette pondered, the wind blowing his silvery hair back in wisps.
“The scientists who examined those three ...for lack of a better word, homunculi, noted that their DNA and RNA was modified. No body hair, skin thin and fragile as paper. Their eyes changed, multicolored, and they could not speak. However, three weeks earlier their car had been found near this very location, and their belongings right where we stand. They found a camera that recorded the moment of their leap. There seemed to be no motive for the action- three successful professors of world history casting themselves into the ocean. The authorities are already suspecting demonic manipulation. The first serious case in awhile.”
Caruthers didn’t answer. He continued to look into the watery abyss. L'appel du vide, the French had called it. The call of the void. Something prompted those three to leap into the whirlpool. A sacrifice? A suicide? Why that landmark, that location?
“Marquette, why? Would they cast themselves into such a remote and obscure whirlpool, of all places, if they didn’t know prior-hand that something was different about Argillum’s Whirl? We haven’t seen a demon since the war. The peace sent them back into the Netherworld, so if demonic manipulation is suspected must mean that a demon has poked its filthy head back into our world.”
“I’m glad you’re theorizing. The Institute has sent us to test that theory. We cast something into the Whirl, and see if sometime late a homunculus turns up in Vale University. The professors videotaped their jumps, so obviously they found some significance here.”
Caruthers followed Marquette back to the car. They returned moments later with a small box.
“Dr. Marquette, what’s in the container?”
Marquette opened the box to reveal the contents-- a sedated Pomeranian.
“Oh. Subject for the day?”
“Better than throwing a human in there.”
Marquette steadied his hand and undid the lock, dropping the box by his feet. He picked the dog up, and prepared to throw it over the edge, but was interrupted by the exclamation of Caruthers, who was teetering dangerously over the edge.
“Caruthers? Eli!? Stay with me now, man. There we go, stay with me. Is something getting into your head?”
Caruthers felt the void calling him as he peered over the edge with his foot as close to the multi-yard drop. He smiled as he stepped over, and careened into the churning waters as a frantic Marquette called down.
A week later, a man, hairless, pronounced heterochromia, appeared naked and covered with viscous fluid near the Amber Relic at Vale University in Desperado. He was unable to speak, had no memory, and looked just like the recently deceased demonology intern E.N Caruthers. He was kept in containment with the other homunculi.
As he was visited by friends and acquaintances alike, researchers and demonologists who prodded at his skin and injected him with various serums, he felt the need to scream, to shout, to say something. But he could not. His mind was still running full speed after his encounter with the void under Argillum’s Whirl.
His soul, however, had been plucked away by the emerging demon that had begun to awaken under the churning blue.