I grew up near Puget Sound. For a long, long time, I thought that meant I grew up near the ocean. Sure, the water is salty, and yes, there are plenty of sea creatures to be found lurking in tide pools, but there are always islands in your field of vision, proving that the water can’t go on forever.
I don’t remember the first time I went to the ocean, nor do I remember the first time I looked out at the sea and understood how people might once have thought that the Earth was flat. But I remember picking up bull whip kelp and imagining it being tentacles of a giant creature, jellyfish stranded on the beach like alien beings, and seeing a whale be bigger than I could possibly have imagined.
The ocean is kind of scary. It’s deep and dark and full of mysteries. The idea that there could be enormous beings down there that we know nothing about is one of the things that attracted me to H. P. Lovecraft’s writing, and while I prefer my fear of the unknown without the side of racism and xenophobia, there’s just something compelling about entities that might lurk in the places we’re too afraid to look.
(Offing is English in origin, so its etymology is exactly what it sounds like: off + suffix -ing.)
The most distant part of the sea as seen from the shore. In the distant future. Impending.
She held the binoculars to her eyes, wind whipping her hair wildly about her face. With her spare hand, she tugged a yellow vinyl hat further down onto her head.
“It’s coming,” she called over her shoulder. “No doubt about it.”
It was huge, unfathomably so, caked with barnacles and rushing her way faster than made any kind of sense. Wings arched out from its back, thick, swinging tentacles dangling from its face.
Her heart raced. She wiped a bit of rainwater from her forehead and swore under her breath. There was no word for what she saw but doom.