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Literature / DO NOT TAKE THE SHELLS

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DO NOT TAKE THE SHELLS is a Web Serial Novel inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Harris Evan, together with his two friends Cathy and Jeff, goes on a holiday to the quiet little coastal village of Taveye. However, it quickly becomes apparent that something is not quite right about the town. Strange shells wash up on the shore that you can't find anywhere else. There is a sign with the words: “DO NOT TAKE THE SHELLS” on it, but no one will explain why. Seventy years ago, a wealthy businessman and scholar named Jonathan Vaun mysteriously vanished, never to be seen again. Then Harris encounters a strange woman on the beach, who claims she lives below the water...

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DO NOT TAKE THE SHELLS contains examples of:

  • Alien Geometries: The eponymous shells are a mild version. They don't drive you insane, but their shape is described as unnerving. The being in the cave is a more serious example.
  • Alien Lunch: The woman on the beach eats the contents of a shell, much to Harris's disgust.
  • All Just a Dream: Harris falls asleep, and wakes up to find that Cathy and Jeff haven't come back. He finds them lying on the beach, dead, but then it turns out that he hadn't really woken up after all, and they're both fine.
  • Ambiguously Human: The woman on the beach looks human, but may be... something else. Chapter 19 reveals that she used to be Susan Holt, a reporter for a newspaper in Essmouth.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: “What are you looking for?”
  • Berserk Button: Seeing the necklace proves to be one for Mr. Marson (not that he's the calmest of people to begin with).
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  • At Least I Admit It: John Marson defends his actions this way.
    Marson: You know, afterwards, there were folk who couldn’t look me in the eye. Who crossed the street when they saw one of us four. Even though they were standing right there when we did it, and did nothing. Some even cheered. And yet, no one ever gives them a lecture on right and wrong.
  • Big Fancy House: The Taveye Museum used to be one, back when Jonathan Vaun lived there.
  • Claustrophobia: Harris is understandably freaked out when he gets stuck in the underwater tunnel.
  • Burn the Witch!: Jonathan Vaun was accused of witchcraft. This is foreshadowed by one of the Bible verses on the cross. Later, the same happens to Mrs. Parker.
  • Cassandra Truth: Cathy and Jeff don't believe Harris's story.
  • Crazy Homeless People: The woman on the beach resembles one, although there's definitely something more going on.
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  • Cryptic Conversation
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast
  • Dead Sparks: Harris and Helena after her trip around the world.
  • Deal with the Devil: Jonathan Vaun was rumoured to have made one. In a less literal sense, the way Mr. Marson describes Vaun's job offer also gives off this vibe.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: If it weren't for George Farrow destroying the book, things might have gone very differently.
  • Domestic Abuser: Strongly implied for George Farrow.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The being in the cave, and by extension, the shells.
  • Eldritch Location: The underwater cave is not a pleasant place to be...
  • Hearing Voices: Harris starts hearing whispers after he sees the being in the cave. Unusually for this trope, he can't actually understand what is being said.
  • Forgiveness: Mrs. Parker believes in forgiveness, and feels that revenge would only make matters worse. However, she finds herself unable to forgive John Marson because he doesn't regret his actions.
  • Genki Girl: Cathy
  • Hell Is That Noise: The cave is filled with a terrible buzzing sound. One reason it's so nerve wracking is that it keeps getting louder, then quieter, then louder again, making it impossible to tune out.
  • Hive Mind
  • I Am Legion: The woman on the beach never uses the word “I”.
  • I'll Take Two Beers Too:
    Marson: I’ll warn you, it’s a long story. Get two beers from the fridge over there, will you? And you can have some too if you like.
  • Imagine Spot: While on the bus leaving Taveye, Harris imagines his future, trying to forget what he saw, and to convince himself it never happened. It ends badly, and he decides to get off the bus and go back.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Susan Holt was one, first investigating a scandal at the Essmouth chemical plant, and then the mystery surrounding Taveye.
  • Invisible to Normals: When Harris shows Cathy the drawing, she doesn't recognise it for what it is, thinking it's an abstract artwork.
  • I Believe That You Believe It: Cathy says something to this effect to Harris.
  • It's Probably Nothing: Harris hopes to prove that there's a mundane explanation for everything.
  • Lack of Empathy: Harris calls John Marson and the council out on this:
    Harris: You don’t even care, do you? You couldn’t care less about her. Or me, for that matter, or the rest of the damn world.
  • Laughing Mad: Harris briefly loses it upon being told that “Jonathan Vaun was not as scared as you."
  • Long-Lost Relative: Evelyn Parker, formerly known as Judy Vaun, Jonathan's niece.
  • Loving a Shadow: Harris still loves Helena as he remembers her from before they broke up.
  • Magical Accessory: The lady at the gift shop claims the jewellery she sells can bring true love, or eternal happiness. Cathy believes her, but Harris is sceptical. Later, she gives Harris a necklace to help against the effects of the being below the water. It definitely does something, although it doesn't entirely restore him to normal.
  • Mainlining the Monster: Jonathan Vaun wasn't a smuggler after all...
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Helena
  • Meet Cute: Harris first meets Helena when he spots her sitting in a tree.
  • Metaphorically True:
    Mrs. Wick: I was trying to preserve the order. And I think what I said was true in spirit, if perhaps not literally.
  • Museum of Boredom: Harris thinks the Taveye Museum will be “Three rooms filled with objects from the owner's attic”. He's wrong, however.
  • Non-Answer: This is the only sort of answer Harris gets when he asks about the shells.
  • Not So Different: Implied by Mr. Parker about Harris and Susan Holt.
    Mr. Parker: She seemed the type who discovers a mystery and latches onto it.
    He gave me a lingering look.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The Taveye town council, especially Montgomery and McGowan, can't seem to agree on anything.
  • Sanity Slippage: Harris's attempts to convince himself he isn't crazy actually serve to make him sound less sane.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Cathy and Jeff form this sort of pairing, and to a lesser extent, Harris and Helena as well.
  • Secret Keeper: Mr. Marson is one for Mrs. Parker, being the only one who knows she's Jonathan Vaun's niece, other than her husband. He eventually tells Harris, and Bridget overhears, allowing the secret to get out anyway.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: It's likely that Mrs. Wick knew all along that Mrs. Parker was Jonathan Vaun's niece.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Mr. Marson died because he wanted to save Taveye. Unfortunately, it has exactly the opposite effect.
  • Shaming the Mob: Mrs. Wick does this in her very first scene.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Jonathan Vaun, at least according to the Taveye Museum.
  • Sleepwalking: Harris somehow manages to create a drawing in his sleep. Later, he gets a 'normal' sleepwalking episode as well.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Fear that someone else will disappear in Taveye (possibly Helena, or someone who looks like her) is what causes Harris to go back on his decision to leave.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Harris asks where the gold comes from. The answer is... less than clear, to put it mildly.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: Some of Jonathan Vaun's books are hinted to be this. He used to have one specifically about the being in the cave, but it was stolen after his death.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Jonathan Vaun became the target of an angry mob after Marson followed him into the cave. The same thing later happens to Mrs. Parker, although unlike Vaun, she isn't killed. The trope even appears by name in one of Harris's dreams.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Even without knowing exactly what the secret is, it's pretty clear Taveye has one.
  • Verbal Tic: Several characters have one. The woman on the beach speaks... with odd... pauses. Mrs. Parker calls Harris 'dear' a lot. Montgomery tends to repeat... tends to repeat part of his sentences.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere
  • Weather Dissonance: Even though the story takes place in the middle of summer, the sky is overcast pretty much all the time.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Chapters 16 and 17 consist mainly of Mr. Marson telling Harris about the past.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Harris tries to avert this trope, but can't help losing his composure when talking about what he's seen.
  • You Were Trying Too Hard: Harris only succeeds at drawing what he's seen when he falls asleep at his desk from exhaustion.


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