The sea was further out than i’d even witnessed, so we wondered to it’s edge.
Those promised colours of sunset never emerged, hazed out by a mist rising off the unnervingly placid expanse of silent water. Vast concrete groins at equatorial distances cast heavy shadows across the beach leaving us with limited paths as we made our way down past the pebbles into the muddy sands.
The consistent orange halo of the town lights began to disappear with the sun as we descended and Hannah used her iPhone light to guide us across the tidal sandbanks interspersed with disgruntled heringulls. Blurred sunset fazed into a clear night with a crescent moon reflecting off flat water and rippled sands, the beauty of which still haunts my memories.
Neither of us mentioned the unusual warmth or lack of wind as we held hands walking home along that still water’s edge, and saw the others approaching.
Each figure appeared slightly elongated, which I put down to the moonlight, carrying a bucket in one hand and some kind of pickaxe in the other.
As we walked past the first we began to wonder what they were doing out here on such a curious night? Crustacean gatherers? Marine biologists? The strangers all seemed to stop at a their prescribed points and stare down at the ground, waiting.
Once we had passed the fifth ‘gatherer’ curiosity was beginning to get the better of us, and we made it out intent to speak to the next one we encountered as we progressed along the sandbanks.
“Beautiful night, i’ve never seen it like this before” Hannah announced in greeting to the next stranger as we neared. The stranger turned her head and replied.
“I’ve not seen you two here before, are you new?”
“I’m from London, but Stuart lives just up the road – what are you doing out here?” Hannah replied, and I clenched her hand perhaps a little too tight.
The gatherer seemed to have warmed to Hannah and beckoned us closer to where she stood – perching over one of the water pools the low tide had left between itself and the sea.
“This is where we find Her” the gatherer said, pointing to the stranded lake of water which until hours ago was part of the sea.
Perhaps sensing our nervousness the gatherer beckoned us further in and as we stared into the water I couldn’t help noticing how her features, which i’d previously put down to the moonlight, were rather accentuated in every way. Most strikingly her eyes, which glowed as blue as the moon. As I felt the rough strong hands grip my shoulders I realised we had not being paying attention to the location of the other gatherers.
“This one might have the blood” said a voice as I felt thud to the back of my head and fell into unconsciousness, my hand slipping from Hannahs.
The salt water brought me shaking back to consciousness as it washed in, and i spat it out of my mouth with a cough.
In my peripheral vision I could only see Hannah’s head. Her head was at the same level as my own. Her body too was completely buried in the cold wet sands of the beach .
“He’s wake, put the bucket on his head!” I heard a gatherer say before being plunged into darkness as one of their metal buckets was placed over over my head. Utterly trapped in the sand, I could feel my head was not alone inside this rusty helmet and something cold and wet caressed the back of my neck. I began to uncontrollably scream….