The year is 1931. September of 1931, to be precise.
The Great Depression holds the nation tightly in its grasp, even as the Dust Bowl wrings the life out of the North American heartland. Jobs are gone and opportunities are scarce. The roads play host to seemingly endless caravans of migrants met at the borders of every city and town with hostile, accusing stares and endless variations on the same harsh words: “Move along, tramps—there’s nothing, here, for your kind.”
But things are a little different in Innsmouth, Massachusetts.
For reasons no one quite knows, the town was completely depopulated by the federal government and the armed forces over late 1927 and into early 1928. Rumors still fly as to the reasons, but the most pervasive gossip claims it was a massive Prohibition sting, implicating most of Innsmouth’s residents in a huge rum-running conspiracy that included dozens of counts of murder, covered up by the entire community. Afterward, the Army Corps of Engineers demolished most of the decaying waterfront properties, even as the Navy torpedoed Devil Reef, which was believed to have some significant importance in the smuggling operation. Why the military was even there, in the first place, however, none of the folk in the area can say for certain.
Beginning in late 1930, a massive public works project, using prison labor from all over the state, was quietly initiated to clean up and rebuild devastated Innsmouth. With the project initially running on an at-best precarious trickle of funding, few outside of the governor’s office and the Innsmouth work camps knew about the restoration efforts, in case they fell flat and the whole thing went bust. But the state’s initial investment lasted just long enough for a change in administrations and the implementation of a new management strategy to funnel more resources into the town. By late summer of ‘31, much of Innsmouth had been modernized, just waiting for new citizens to bring it back to life. Sure, even amidst the new construction, its old bones could be seen in its winding cobbled lanes, and in the sturdy ancient staircases descending to stone wharves hugging the banks of the Manuxet, and in those neighborhoods still primarily consisting of original buildings, but the town was, for the most part, utterly transformed.
Yet, still, the fog rolls in thick, most nights, and the light of the streetlamps seems never to reach quite as far nor shine quite so brightly as the planners imagined. When the wind blows in, just so, off the Atlantic, a fishy stink wafts along the narrow streets, along with a dark and oppressive sense of foreboding. Whatever uncanny foulness was upon Innsmouth may officially be gone, but some evils cannot be scraped off the skin of the world by anything so mundane as a few bulldozers and some dynamite.
This is the story of the shadow after the shadow.
Hosted and narrated by:
Stephen Michael DiPesa (Nocturnalchemy)
Scenes played: 2
License: Community License