“Dagon,” H. P. Lovecraft, 1919 – A morphine-addicted merchant marine wants to commit suicide due to an incident in the war. He relates that his cargo boat was overtaken by a German boat and he escapes in a raft. He drifts into an ooze thrown up from the bottom of the sea by a volcano. At first, he sees the statues of an ancient fish-race, then a creature emerges. “Grotesque beyond the imagination of a Poe or a Bulwer, they were damnably human in general outline despite webbed hands and feet…” A storm overtakes him. He awakens in an asylum, tormented by the memory of his encounter with the creature, then a noise at the door, and he runs to the window. The story itself may be a suicide note.
Comments: A widely-referenced story that itself references earlier sf. Wikipedia notes that it prefigures the themes of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos and that Lovecraft claimed it was inspired by a dream. Available in The Phoenix Pick SF Anthology and Gunn’s The Road to Science Fiction. The text is available at hplovecraft.com.
Author: Wikipedia: “Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) — known as H. P. Lovecraft — was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction.”