The sea holds numerous secrets both on the surface and below. There are numerous pieces of dark folklore and nightmarish legends that have been spoken of by sailors since the dawn of time. It is likely that any age-old mariner will speak of ghostly myths regarding the spectral Flying Dutchman ship that had been seen haunting the sea at night by their grandfather’s grandfathers. Or perhaps they’ll discuss the horrors of the Green Sea of Darkness spoken of by Arabic, Spanish, and Portuguese sailors many centuries ago.
There was a squalid, run-down nautical town that was abundant with stories about sailors who had witnessed unusual happenings in their local ocean. There were so many of them it became difficult to figure out which were true and which were fictional.
Tales of underwater cities filled with eerie and bizarre beings that abduct sailors with unknown technology and strange glows in the sky would be a signal that its inhabitants were rising from the depths to do so. Belief in hideous, enormous sea monsters was still very much alive in this place.
But perhaps the most fearful and dreaded sea tale of them all was the story of The Strange Island Cloaked in Mist.
The legend goes back hundreds of years (perhaps even more, prior to the invention of writing systems) with Spanish explorers encountering a nameless, uncharted island that harbored grotesque and Hellish creatures. Very few accounts mention it, but in the few that have been found, it was written by chroniclers that those who went there either mysteriously vanished without a trace or simply went insane due to what they saw there, eventually dying of some bizarre illness.
Native-American folklore also mentions this island, saying that it appears once every twenty years when a perplexing mist appears. Strangely enough, every twenty years, a bizarre fog does appear on the horizon despite whether or not weather reports indicate that there would be any.
Legend has it that shamans, with their advanced knowledge of magic and the dark arts who lived among indigenous people during that time, tried their best to seal away the horrible monsters and phenomenon that existed on and around that island which served as a gateway to the "Unknown Realms", parallel worlds that harbored wicked and fiendish beings and monsters.
Although their chants and magical spells worked, the sinister powers of the Realms were more powerful and could still occasionally break through the gateway between worlds. Allegedly, this happened every twenty years.
Due to this legendry, the locals see an eerie and chilling fog develop out at sea and they claim that that fog is created by the evil forces of the Realms and do not sail at all that day, fearing that they may encounter terrible, unspeakable horrors mentioned by Spanish chroniclers and the indigenous accounts.
It also claimed by a handful of scholars that an unknown island that functions as a portal between Earth and the “Unknown Realms” is described in an ancient nameless text known today as The Book of Lost Secrets. Some believe there is a connection between the island mentioned in the book and this mysterious island that appears without any rational explanation.
Others believe that this same fog that appears is related to an incident that occurred in the 1930s in a nearby town named Angel Lake.
In Angel Lake, a mysterious fog appeared and drained the life force out of all the animals and trees near the area and had bizarre hypnotic powers that attracted people inside of it, only to never come back out. The town was abandoned and has never been inhabited since. Ultimately, it is unknown whether these two strange happenings have any connection with one another.
Regardless of the chilling myths and tales surrounding the sea surrounding the town, there were two brothers who were not repelled by them. Instead, they were intrigued and fascinated. Hearing countless accounts and stories of this unknown island and having a family with a history of seafaring, they were stirred to try and discover it. They were locally known as the Romero Brothers.
All of their lives they had read of numerous phantom islands and lost cities that advanced ancient cultures and Europeans from the Age of Discovery had supposedly explored, spoken of, and displayed in old maps and lore. Places such as the golden city El Dorado, the elusive island of Antillia, and the ancient subterranean city of Atlantis are but a few of the many bits of folklore they had read about throughout their lifetimes.
They themselves had much experience with the sea. They’d often travel with both their father and grandfather on fishing expeditions when they were younger. When the fish were not biting, they’d recite fantastic voyages of sailors, lavish treasure hoards, and sea monsters.
Although the tale in which often their father disliked talking about (much to their chagrin, due to it being the boys’ favorite) was the story of the nameless and terrible island cloaked in mist. Whenever their father wasn’t around, their grandfather would fill them in on the dark strangeness that surrounded that place.
He also kindled their interest in it by swearing that he had seen the elusive island with his own eyes. Even on his deathbed some years later, he still claimed to have seen it. To the boys, now young strong men, that was more than enough of a confirmation that it existed.
Although there were very few records of it, the island was described as not very large, but it had a strange aurora to it. Claims of never-before-seen creatures in the sea and on the shore were spoken of. The trees on the island behaved oddly, as if they were living organisms as opposed to plants. The sky would suddenly appear very different from the sky we knew above the island and there was mentioning of sinister beings inhabiting the island.
Age-old documents written by Spanish chroniclers claimed they could see “goblins” lurking about the place and deformed half-human half-animal things howling and staring at them from the darkness of the woodlands. Overall, it provided very unnerving stories about this place. The environment in which these tales took place also brought a chill to whoever read the chronicle’s spine.
This town, as explained earlier, was beside a vast, desolate sea.
The water was never inviting, always appearing grim with a mixture of a sickly green and grayish color, and dead fishes, for some unknown reason, would often wash up on shore. It was not uncommon if the fish were already rotting from death or even just bare bones when they did.
Seagulls and albatrosses rarely flew by, as if intentionally avoiding this place. The waves were highly unstable at varying times defying our knowledge of tides and patterns of the world’s oceans.
Sometimes, the water would be totally calm and silent. Other times, it would be ferocious, creating colossal and deadly waves that would only be seen during the most intense hurricanes.
As fate would have it, the two young men had heard that the twenty-year-mark of the island’s supposed reappearance was at hand. Both intrigued and excited by this, the two decided to prepare for the journey in the very early hours of the morning.
They had planned it months in advance; they would take one of their now elderly father’s motorboats and take it out far into the sea. If they located the ethereal mist, they’d head towards it. If, after a few hours, they would spot nothing, then they would head back and conclude the whole story just a hoax.
When that fateful day arrived at 4AM, the Romeros went into the dreary and sunless morning to search for their docked motorboat. Not wanting to draw attention to themselves, they quietly snuck around the dark and dismal streets. They noticed that the houses appeared even more bleak and lifeless in the early dawn.
As they marched quickly but quietly, they could hear the scurrying of furtive nocturnal creatures and the thunderous roaring of the waves in the distance. Even though they had lived in this seaside town their whole lives, the further they ventured closer to the sea, the more it seemed like an unfamiliar and lonely ghost-town. There were no lights, no cars on the streets, and no rising sun beginning to light up the sky. The gloominess frightened them somewhat, almost as if nature itself was aware of their secretive mission and was complying with their desire to be left alone.
Finally, they spotted the old but still useful motorboat tied to the quay. From the cracked and empty sidewalks onto the slightly broken and run-down wharf, they immediately climbed into the boat and untied it from the dock. The older Romero was a much more skillful and experienced navigator and sailor, while the younger Romero was the more sharp-eyed sibling and had much more acute senses.
The older brother put himself in charge of the motor and navigation, while the younger one sat on the bow clutching a pair of binoculars and gazing out into the seemingly endless sea of darkness. The engine roared to life and they took off from the port, leaving an upside down V-shaped trail in the shadowy waters.
The air was unwelcoming and cold. Being near the ocean only enhanced the coldness and they shivered as they sailed further away from shore. Their scarfs flapped in the wind and they zipped up their sweaters as they sped onwards towards a destination that could easily have been dreamed up by drunken sailors in pubs.
It wasn’t long before the both of them completely lost sight of land. Even with the binoculars, the younger Romero could no longer see it. All that could be seen on all directions before them was grayish water. It was there that the older brother shut off the motor. They both decided to wait for any mist to appear.
As they sat there, they realized just how dark and desolate everything was. There were no stars and the overcast sky blocked out both the moon and the sun. They realized that aside from the small waves lapping against the sides of their vessel, there was no sound.
The silence was deadly, having an ominous essence lurking within it.
Immediately they recalled stories of sea monsters lurking beneath the water that would drag unsuspecting mariners into the Hellish depths and devour them. They also didn’t forget the tale of the phantom ship that had have a crew of vengeful pirate spirits that would rip the souls out of seafarers and force the victims to join them sailing for all eternity searching for more unsuspecting sailors on the cursed waters.
For what seemed like hours, the two young men sailed along the dark and opaque waters, drifting along and being the only signs of life for miles around them. Eventually, it became clear that perhaps all that they’d heard had been just silly superstitious sea tales. All of this effort that they had done had been a complete waste of time.
Just as they were both thinking this, the temperature had suddenly dropped significantly. This, however, was unlike any cold air they had felt before. Growing up as members of a nautical family, the Romero brothers were very knowledgeable on life at the sea. They understood that temperature near the ocean generally much colder than landlocked areas, but this coldness was much more bitter and far weirder.
They sat there, staring out into the endless gray water and the sunless overcast skies overhead and on the horizon. They could begin to see puffs of silver smoke wisping out of their nostrils and mouth as the chill closed in on them.
They were wearing jackets and sweaters, but that did little to block the biting air. They began to shiver and shutter, huddling closer together to perverse body heat. Both of them were unclear on whether they were trembling due to this eerie, sudden and powerful blast of colder air or if it was due to the fear inside of them suddenly beginning to reveal itself.
The coldness that seemingly came out of nowhere did not feel like typical coldness. It almost seemed to slither about them like an enormous cobra beginning to coil around them. At times, it seemed to be stronger in one portion of their bodies as opposed to another and vice versa. It was like a living thing crawling all around them and freezing their bones; the grip of Death.
All of a sudden, with a pang of both shock and horror, they noticed that the edges of their boat were starting to form patches of ice. It made small cracking noises and it became louder as it spread rapidly all over it. Whatever was happening here, the Romeros had never seen before.
Just then, the younger brother emitted a gasp that made the older one stand up immediately without even asking what it was. He stared at his sibling and saw that he was pointing out towards the direction they were headed.
Before the two sailors was an enormous wall of mist that had mysteriously appeared out of nowhere. It was very dense, swirling around menacingly and chaotically. The coolness they had felt in the air seemed to be coming from that wall of fog. They both exchanged unsettled glances at one another as their vessel approached that ghastly mist.
Without uttering a word and as if their looks to each other were enough to provide an agreement, the older brother steered the boat directly into it.
The moment they had entered the fog, there was a dark shift in the atmosphere.
Initially it was only gloom and water, but now there was a deathly pale white color surrounding them and the water seemed to have taken a much bleaker, darker appearance. It was as if the night sky had been changed into a liquid form and they were sailing on top of it.
The boat sped on, being the only unnatural sound and the fog’s thickness continuously increased. At one point, nothing was visible other than the path the vessel was creating and the small patch of water that it rested on. For an uncounted amount of time, the brothers sailed forward seeing nothing but the endless whiteness unsure of what they were heading towards.
Finally, the siblings agreed that it was best to stop for a moment and see where they were. The younger Romero pulled out his smartphone and attempted to use his GPS to discover their whereabouts.
To his astonishment, the GPS indicated that they had hardly even left the shore. But it couldn’t have been possible. They had been sailing away from it for hours or, at the very least, it had felt that way. He refreshed it multiple times, but it still provided the same coordinates.
He held up the phone to the older Romero, who now appeared visibly distressed due to him being the navigator. With many years of sailing experience, there was no doubt in his mind that they had sailed for hours away from shore.
Could it have glitched? Or perhaps they truly were only a few miles away but were just exceptionally tired from waking up so early that it had seemed like it? Or perhaps, was the GPS only showing where they last left off before venturing into this mist?
The younger Romero placed the phone back into his pocket and sat down near the bow, staring down into the abyss-like water and disconcerted with the information he received. It simply didn’t make any sort of sense. The older Romero was still sailing forward, and although this fog was truly bizarre, it was indeed possible that this fog could only be just that.
He also felt somewhat guilty for his brother seeing him somewhat cold and exhausted. This all seemed for nothing. He was just a hair away from admitting all of this to be folly when his brother shot up from his seat and cried out with a terrified look on his face. The older brother immediately left the motor and peered over the vessel.
There were thousands of strange grotesque amphibian or fish-esque creatures swimming within the ocean. They were shining with a mysterious light glowing around their bodies. They had the appearance of fish, but they had bulging, frog-like eyes that looked to be rapidly shifting left and right. They were transparent, and one could see their organs and entrails inside of them glowing with a faint blue color.
Their arms were small and thin, with two clawed fingers and a thumb attached. The unsightly beings also opened and shut their mouths repeatedly and non-stop.
Furthermore, there also appeared to be uncanny jellyfish-like things of various sizes hovering on the surface of the water. They were see-through and were orange in color and they seemed to be glowing similarly to the frog-fish beings.
Even deeper in the water, they could see bizarre silhouettes of unknown sea creatures, some grotesquely large and others very small.
The pair of brothers stared wide-eyed and their mouths agape at the unnatural and hideous creatures swimming all around them. They weren’t fascinating or unique to look at. Instead, they had a kind of loathly, terrifying appearance that is too difficult to truly describe. The way those menacing jellyfish things swam and floated with their long, tendril arms jittering and slithering about wildly.
As they stared at these horrible sea creatures, something even more spine-chilling happened. All the sea critters scattered and seemingly disappeared completely when a perplexing and haunting noise emitted from the distance outside the mist.
It is very difficult to explain it in words, but it sounded like a very strong wind blowing, like muffled rumbling of thunder combined with an eerie sort of whistling and a “hollow howling” sound that is somewhat comparable to the haunting songs that whales create.
The Romeros stared up into the gloomy sky as they heard these unsettling noises and sounds coming from the distance, almost hypnotizing them with its paralyzing effects. The more they listened, the more it grew in its menacing frequency. To add to the horror was that the more it went on, the more other different disturbing sound effects seemingly joined in.
Some of those horrible sounds included something that resembled a human infant with a baritone voice both sobbing and screeching, a sort of noise that resembled the “music” of planets that are only heard with specialized recording equipment and the nerve-wracking cries of some unknown creatures. Just to hear these sounds were enough to make the siblings’ skin crawl.
Then, just as mysteriously as it had appeared, the fog began to part slowly. At first glance, it appeared like some sort of spectral mountain formation was rising from the water. It didn’t appear natural at first, almost as if it were painted by the hand of a deity. There were strange stripes and patterns of oranges, purples, and reds all over it, and the sand on the shore had a Robin’s Egg Blue color to it.
Could it be the mysterious island that they had heard stories about for years? Is it possible that they’ve finally encountered it? The nameless island was described as being unusual in appearance and strange sounds that sounded unlike anything of this Earth were said to be heard when one approached it.
But there was more to this phantom island than just a mysterious appearance. Even the sky around it was odd. Stars dotted portions of the sky, but these stars were not like the stars the two young men had seen before. A few were brighter than others and a few glistened repeatedly, almost aggressively. The brightest star was in the center of the sky, like the sun if it had been shrunken down and its flames dimmed significantly.
What was happening? The sun should have been rising by now. Instead, it appeared like a night sky, as if no time had gone by at all. To further complicate the situation, the stars they were gazing at did not even appear like ordinary star constellations.
Did they travel to another planet somehow? Another dimension or world? What were these bizarre and unsettling alien-like creatures in the sea?
Regardless of their growing fear, the Romero brothers sailed on, reaching the shores of this eldritch island.
When they dropped anchor, the sand was not warm. It was cold, very cold. It was as if it was large chunks of ice were grounded into powder and scattered everywhere. It glistened like pieces of diamonds as they entered the island, but it wasn’t pleasant.
As they moved forward, they saw trees unlike any they’ve ever seen. They were coniferous, but they had unnerving finger-like branches that seemed to move without any wind. Reeds and bushes were all over, but they appeared to be more like bones than plants; gray and skinny. The siblings saw shadowy critters scurry furtively up and behind trees or under bushes. The only creature in which they got a somewhat clear image was the shadow of what appeared to be a hare, only larger, more deformed and gaunt. It took leaps that were much longer than a typical hare’s as well.
At times, they’d see the shadow of a large winged creature fly overhead. When they’d gaze up, it would be gone. It didn’t appear like the silhouette resembled an eagle or falcon. It appeared more like a giant bat and it didn’t make any noise. The only thing that could be heard when this animal, or whatever other name would be suitable for it, flew by would be the sound of its powerful wings slowly flapping or the wind when they moved.
Small pools of water would be scattered around the nameless island, with the water having a clearness to it that was not refreshing nor inviting. The water almost shined like glass, but it had a sickening greenish tinge to it. It’s difficult to say what it was, but the water felt like it was poisonous for a human to drink. When they peered inside, they could see what seemed like pearls at the very bottom of it. Only as they observed more closely, they weren’t sure if they were small organisms that glowed in the depths of the pools or if they were the eyes of some sort of indescirnable massive creature staring back at them.
The more they stayed here, the more they felt fear beginning to churn inside of them. The entire island appeared like some sort of land out of time, a place that hadn’t evolved with the rest of the planet. The sky, the ground, the creatures, and everything else seemed so chillingly surreal.
Could it be that they stumbled into some sort of lost dimension? Or perhaps a place in existence that only appears after a certain amount of time for unknown reasons? They came through fog, so was that fog some sort of portal to another realm or planet? Would there be a way back?
It seemed like being lost in some sort of ghoulish dreamland. Nothing appeared remotely similar it was as if they had traveled into the mind of some sort of psychotic painter and they were lost in the maddening depths of his twisted imagination of creating strange worlds.
Observing their surroundings, it was as if everything had turned mad. Glowing orbs that may have been the eyes of the sinister critters spoken of by the Spaniards and indigenous shamans were observing them, glowing for a few seconds and then disappearing into the darkness, only for other eyes to shine evilly in another location.
Then, an ear-piercing and nightmarish sound shattered the silence of this unknown land. It sounded like hysterical, piteous sobbing coming from behind a copse of trees. It resembled a young woman weeping hysterically. The two brothers stared at each other, and then they both turned in the direction of where the cries were emitting from. As they both approached the pack of trees that seemed to conceal whomever the weeping was coming from, they both drew back in utter horror.
A hideous black frog-faced creature with bulging purple eyes and multiple tendrilish legs stared up at them. The two stared wide-eyed in fear at the monstrosity that was now crawling towards them, its mouth opening and shutting repeatedly with loud, screeching cries. They both whirled around and sped down the alien forest, hearing the devil creature screaming louder and more menacingly than before.
Almost as if it were some sort of alarm that awoke all the vile entities and beings lurking in the darkness, they felt slithering vines like tentacles wrapping around their ankles and shins. Trees eerily seemed to come to life and reach down for them with their crooked, horrible branchy fingers. The forest came to life with horrid sounds and evil eyes glowing even more brightly than before appeared in the shadows. Everything turned mad as they dashed deeper and deeper into the unknown with Hellish, invisible things at their heels.
The younger brother then grabbed his older sibling he threw them both out of the way of the horrid things that were chasing them. Both of them instinctively knowing to lay low, they could hear terrible, indescribable howls and screams coming from unseen forces as they faded away. Shaken and disturbed by that, they both slowly stood up and glanced at each other nervously.
This was no longer just a curious expedition. It now became a hideous maze of horrors. They knew they needed to leave. But where did they drop anchor? How would they be able to find the sea once again? Their only choice was to head in a random direction and hope that they would stumble upon their vessel.
They wandered through endless woodlands of eerily-shaped trees and bushes, still hearing the calls and shrieks of bizarre, unseen creatures. The sky overhead still retained its never-before-seen pattern of stars.
But what was strange was that, at the foot of the mountain, they spotted a moderate-sized cave. The brothers stared at it mindlessly as if it had some sort of hypnotic hold on them. The pair of sailors began to take slow, noisy steps towards it. All of the ice-like crystals seemed to shine more vibrantly around it, and a surrealistic “gong” noise seemed to be emitting from it.
The closer they got, the more menacingly lurid the shining became and the gong sound became mixed in with demonic chattering and growls. As they were only a few steps away from the entrance to it, they began to see a very bone-chilling glowing within the darkness.
At first, it seemed like a glowing insect shape wandering around aimlessly. Appendages were visible as it wandered in circles as if searching for something on the ground. As their eyes became more adjusted to the darkness, it became clear that it wasn’t a humanoid shape nor was it searching on the ground.
Instead, that’s how its body naturally was. Whether it was crawling or slithering was too hard to determine. Then, other glows began to appear moving in a similar grotesque manner. The weird gong-like noises were coming from them. It was as if this bizarre otherworldly humming sound effect was their own language or form of communication.
After seeing how blasphemous and horrifying these atrocious beings were, the younger Romero couldn’t help but shriek out in horror. Once he did, the cave-dwellers immediately stopped whatever it was they were doing and all of their repugnant bodies turned towards the brothers staring inside the cave.
The extra-dimensional gong noise became even louder, more energized and wicked than before. Their greenish glows seemed to shift between bright green to a bizarre red and then back to green with each pulse of some reflex or organ.
Right before they turned and dashed away from this nightmarish scenario, they caught a glimpse of what the beings were; the best way to describe them were Hellish, oozing monstrosities that were a hybrid between a lobster, a scorpion, and a centipede. Their titanic claws snapped ferociously and they had a foul, sickening yellow-green froth oozing out of the pincers that served as their mouths. Its exoskeleton (or whatever was more accurate to describe the shell or covering on its body) was a nauseating pale white color but it also had an indigo tinge to it that seemed to appear whenever they jerked suddenly.
The brothers ran as fast as they could, maddened with utter terror. The abominations chased them out into the perplexing trees and icy sand. They could easily hear the dry, rustling pattering of their prickly insect legs as they gave chase. The humming became deafening and was enough to make their skin crawl as it increased in its hostility. Silhouettes of unknown critters crawled away or climbed up trees as the young men and the cave-dwelling horrors came along.
The trees seemed to come alive once more, shifting their branches and the trunks morbidly turning their bodies towards the oncoming noise. There came deep guttural growling from the wooden giants as they sprinted past.
There was no longer any sanity left. Whether they were trapped in an alternate dimension, another planet, or if this was all just a dream, it became horrific madness. Running wildly, they could still hear the dreadful things behind and all hope seemed lost until finally they could spot the ocean through the sea of evil living trees.
Reaching their vessel which was now their only sanctuary, the two shoved the boat off of the deathly cold blue sand and hopped onboard, the older Romero wasting no moment to turn on the engine. As they sped as far away as they could, they approached those ghastly jellyfish-like beings and those horrid underwater fish-amphibian hybrid things. They couldn’t take any more of it.
The older Romero began to laugh madly like an idiot. The horrors and the madness had taken its toll and consumed him as he stared at those alien creatures. The younger Romero crouched down, shut his eyes, and shielded his head with his arms, praying that this was only some sort of prolonged night terror.
When suddenly, the younger brother peered up and he saw the sky and everything else around him completely white. Could it be? He was in the fog again. All the terrible sounds and ominous beings that were pursuing them had seemingly vanished into thin air. The young man spotted his brother on the floor of their boat, foaming at the mouth, speaking in strange tongues and muttering to himself.
He repeatedly shook his brother, trying to break him out of his insane trance. He attempted to bring him back but despite his best efforts, the older Romero wouldn’t respond as his old self again. The younger brother had no choice but to take control of the boat and wait out this terrible fog.
Eventually, after what seemed like hours just as before, white mist suddenly dissipated and the gloomy ocean appeared once again. Tired and with a sibling who had seemingly lost his mind, the younger Romero guided his vessel back to shore and dropped anchor, carrying his brother as if he were a wounded soldier.
The older Romero never recovered from his dreadful experience. Psychologists and physicians were utterly perplexed as to what had happened to him. They were unable to agree upon any sort of diagnosis.
Suggestions of some sort of unknown trauma were put forward. What made the situation even more complicated was that he slowly became very ill to the point of where he was constantly sweating and suffering from severe chills. His incoherent ramblings grew worse and more rabid, often breaking into wild fits of rage or fear while screaming in an unknown tongue.
Three years later, he died of what the coroner concluded to be natural causes. This, however, did not explain why the older Romero was found outside laying supine on the sandy floor of the gloomy beach at the time of his death with a terrified expression on his face which made even the medical staff shudder nervously. Strangely, he seemed to have died while staring out into the ocean.
The Younger Romero lived for a few more years himself, outliving his brother by a few years, but he was never the same after his ghoulish experience on that haunting and lost island. He became a stay-at-home recluse, avoiding the gaze of anyone whom he passed by (which was often at night), and his hair turned gray as if he suffered from severe nervousness. Eventually, he committed suicide by putting a bullet through his temple.
When his home was investigated, notebook after notebook was found mentioning bizarre and horrible creatures lurking outside of his window and even in his room in the late hours of the night if he ever woke up unexpectedly and disturbing drawings of indescribable things were scattered all over the floor.
To this day, their vessel still sits in the shed of their now grief-stricken and lonely father still pondering what his two sons had seen that had mentally and physically destroyed them. He was already old during their eerie expedition, but now he was even weaker and more tired. In his last days before he passed away, he glanced out into the sea and thought he saw an evil ethereal mist flowing from the cold sea and behind it, cloaked by the mist, was a small but very strange island that he had never noticed before looming in the distance…