"I have an odd craving to whisper about those few frightful hours in that ill-rumored and evilly shadowed seaport of death and blasphemous abnormality… It helps me, too, in making up my mind regarding a certain terrible step which lies ahead of me." – H. P. Lovecraft, "The Shadow Over Innsmouth"
(Feel free to skip this.)
Before I get on with the story, I have a confession to make. I've always looked down somewhat on fanfiction as an art form. It was easier to write when a world and characters had already been made by someone else, and for that reason I would assume that most of the people drawn to writing fanfiction were authors who have problems coming up with their own original ideas.
I have been a devoted fan of Digimon for many years now, and a while back I came across this site and decided that I might as well look into the Digimon fanfiction it had. This was years ago, and I hope no one here will be offended when I say that what I found didn't help improve my opinion of the genre. There were some good, well-written stories, but for each one I found there were seemingly hundreds of stories which were just awful – bizarre romantic pairings, mazes of spelling and grammatical errors, characters who bore no resemblance to their animated originals, some stories which had almost nothing to do with the franchise canon at all.
Well, in the end I got tired of wading through such stuff and swore off of fanfiction, possibly forever. It made me uncomfortable to read, like a guilty pleasure that wasn't really pleasurable. It was about this time that I first began toying with the idea of becoming a writer myself. What spurred me on was my discovery of the works of H. P. Lovecraft, which resonated with me like nothing I had before read.
I owe Digimon for that discovery. I had first looked up Lovecraft after reading that Dagomon and that memorable and unusual episode in Digimon Adventure 02, "The Call of Dagomon," were inspired by Lovecraft's fiction. So I started reading. I started writing. I found other references to Lovecraft's works scattered throughout the Digimon franchise, and my two obsessions fueled each other. I had always been disappointed that the Dagomon subplot was never revisited in the anime, and I guess this naturally led me to wonder how I might have handled the subject matter.
I had planned to never "stoop" to writing a work of fanfiction, but as I started to find my voice as a writer that question wouldn't leave me alone. Eventually I stopped fighting the urge, and the result was the beginning of this story, The Call, in November 2010.
I'll begin soon (I promise!), but first I would like to make a note on terminology. I tend to use Japanese names when referring to Digimon and other characters, though I'm OCD and will make some exceptions in the case of the former to avoid some Engrish-induced misspellings.
This story concerns events in the summer of 2003 in the Adventure universe. Since I'm assuming anyone reading this is already familiar with Digimon, I won't waste much time in-story on exposition. I was inspired to write this story by all the loose ends left by Adventure 02, and the intriguing epilogue to the Original Story, Spring 2003 drama CD: "Afterwards, the world met with even greater trouble. These children, and the others who were chosen in 1999, were shown to be doing very well even 25 years later, but that doesn't mean that they had lived their days in peace all that time."
The Dreams Begin
"May the merciful gods, if indeed there be such, guard those hours when no power of the will, or drug that the cunning of man devises, can keep me from the chasm of sleep." – H. P. Lovecraft, "Hypnos"
Half the world lay in darkness, as it always does. The planet rotated eternally, exposing each longitude in turn to the cold black of outer space, and when this happened, the people dwelling on those longitudes slept. Nearly all of these dreamed.
At first there was only darkness, and the smell. The smell of salt, and rotting sea creatures. There was no wind to dispel it, and it simply hung in the lightless air. Hikari imagined herself locked in some crypt buried beneath all the oceans of the world.
After what may have been hours, it dawned on her that she could see again, though the sight of her surroundings, the rotting wooden walls of the houses and the dead gray sky above did nothing to assuage her uneasiness. "Never again," she had promised herself. That was… last October, or November? But, of course, when she had said it then she had been surrounded by those who loved her, who would keep her grounded in one of the two worlds she did not fear. They were not here now. Was it real? Or another dream? She was still dressed in her pajamas. If a dream, all she had to do was struggle, fight against sleep, maybe call out and be heard by someone who could awaken her. If a dream, Tailmon lay in the same room, invisible to the sleeper, but within easy reach of her voice.
"Tail – mon?" she faltered. There was no response. If she was indeed dreaming, waking up would not be so easy. The dreams had begun again several nights ago, originally merely dark and formless, full of unease but unaccompanied by images or sounds, as they had been back in June of last year. But tonight, she was here again, in this horrible ghost town, hearing the waves of the nearby ocean. The Airdramon had destroyed the place on her first unwilling visit, hadn't it? Why was it standing once more, not even looking as if newly rebuilt, but as ancient and decrepit as ever?
She didn't want to stay here, but had no real idea of where to go instead. There was the dark, sinister ocean on one side, and what seemed to be unscalable cliffs on the other. And even if she could climb those rock walls, what might or might not lurk in the forbidding forests brooding at their tops? Eventually she decided to head for the beach, planning to follow the shoreline until the cliffs were gone or climbing them was more feasible. And it was as she took the first few steps down the street that a voice spoke.
"Where are you going, Yagami-san?"
Hikari whirled, but saw no one. The voice, a male voice, sounded human, not at all like the voices she had been dreading to hear since the dream began, but in this place no unknown sound was welcome. The speaker's words seemed pleasant enough when first heard, but on reflection, she could detect some dark undercurrent behind them, as though they had been a threat rather than an innocent question.
"Who's there? Where are you?" she asked the empty street.
"Here and there," the voice replied. "I've wanted to meet you for some time, and now it is my pleasure to welcome you back. You did not appreciate your last welcoming committee, and acted rather unreasonably. I hope this time you will accept our hospitality."
"I don't want to be here," she said, backing up towards a tall wooden fence nearby. All the while the voice had been talking she had been attempting to determine where it came from, but could not place it. It was just there. She set her back to the fence, scanning the street and the dark windows of the ancient houses. "I want to wake up."
"Some other time, then. Soon. We will be waiting, and watching." And that's when the hand came from nowhere, reached through the fence, clutched her shoulder, and caused her to start awake in her dark but familiar room. She lay for some time in a cold sweat, unsure if the dream were really over. Sitting up somewhat she could barely discern the furry lump of Tailmon sleeping at the foot of the bed. To think that her partner had been so near, yet so far out of reach, for the duration of the dream – the nightmare.
She fought the urge to awaken the feline Digimon, or even to walk through the apartment to Taichi's room. She still didn't know for sure if there was a true problem, or only coincidence. If it happened again, she would let them know. It was a long while before she fell asleep once more.
Some distance away in Tamachi, another of the Chosen Children was spending a restless night as well. Ken could not stay asleep. Whenever he would close his eyes, visions of the past would play themselves out in his head.
He would see the Digimon he had dreamed of the night before Demon had attacked, similar to Chimairamon, but darker, larger, more powerful. He would see the gray, terrible ocean, hear its waves, and awake with a feeling as though he were being watched. After a few seconds the sensation would fade, and within minutes he was lost once more in dreams, resuming the guise of the Kaiser – torturing, hating, secretly fearing. Through all this he did not wake Wormmon, who slept peacefully at his side, but spent the night alone, hoping that the dreams would pass and the past leave him be once more.
But the dreams did not pass until sometime after three in the morning. It was then that he woke once more, and the illusion of being observed did not fade as it had before. Eventually the feeling grew so strong that Ken propped himself up on his elbow and looked out into the darkness of the room. Wormmon felt his partner's movement and stirred at last.
Ken didn't answer. He thought he could see something, a darker patch of shadow in the lightless room. Wormmon followed the boy's eyes and tensed his body.
"Ken, there's someone…"
"Hello. Hello," a soft, chuckling voice said from the dark, and the pair in the bed could see the glint of teeth, and the unusual twinkle of dark eyes. A tall, grinning man stood in the corner of the bedroom, near the desk with the computer on it. "It's so good to see you, Ichijouji-kun! How are you liking our little toy?" The man held up a small object, and Ken's pulse quickened when he recognized it as his Digivice. "Don't worry," the stranger continued, "you can keep it a while longer. I'm interested to see what use you'll put it to next. Catch!" With a laugh and a flick of his wrist the man threw the D-3 as though he were skipping a stone. Ken threw up his arm as the machine flew past him and struck the wall.
The boy and the Digimon could not have taken their eyes from the man for more than a second, but by the time Ken had the D-3 in his hand and had turned back to face the rest of the room, the stranger had vanished. Had Wormmon not seen and heard the same things, Ken may have dismissed the entire experience as just another nightmare.
Neither of them slept for the remainder of the night.
Though Hikari and Ken had the worst of it that night, none of the twelve Chosen Children who had protected the world from the powers of darkness made it through the night wholly undisturbed. Takeru and Miyako dreamed of hearing waves and a familiar voice crying for help. Yamato and Sora had formless visions of wandering through endless mazes of blackness. Even Daisuke, who had never been prone to nightmares, awoke the next morning feeling restless and uneasy.
Nor were the twelve the only ones with odd dreams and fears that night. The world continued to turn, and everywhere darkness went, nightmare followed.