I stand on the beach, feeling the corse sand between my toes. It’s a relaxing feel, the sand. It almost makes me forget the horrible thing that happened to me. Almost.
I was getting out of my car, expecting a peaceful day. I was going to go get some fresh watermelon in the patch in my back yard. I love water melon, the luxurious sweet taste of the sticky juice dribbling down my chin on a hot day. The satisfying sound it makes when I bite into it. I love it all, even the seeds. Especially the seeds. The seeds make it so I can grow more watermelon. I thought I was safe in my back yard. I will never make that assumption again. That day, I took a few steps on my soft, green grass before I saw something move in the corner of my eye. It’s just the neighbors cat. I tell myself. I can’t help but to look anyways. I turn my head in the direction of where I saw the movement, nothing was there. A few moments later, I see something move again, almost to the place where my peripheral vision wouldn’t have seen it. I turn my head, still nothing. Stop being paranoid. I tell myself. I make it to my watermelons, smiling widely at how they have grown. I the scissors out of my pocket and cut the stem, rolling the watermelon away and excited to cutting it open. The only problem was, when I picked it up, it didn’t feel right. It felt odd, almost as if there wasn’t a solid on the inside, but a liquid.
“Duh, it’s a watermelon.” I made this joke aloud, which isn’t such a big deal except for I heard a slight laugh. Panic took full force. I swing around, but not quick enough. A large hand hits me across the face, sending my watermelon and me to the ground. The watermelon splatters to the left and sprays me with a warm, red liquid. What is this? Blood. It’s blood that was in my watermelon. I looked up and saw a monster. A big black figure that had long black claws that reached the floor.
“Please...” I whisper.
I got no pity from the monster, only razor sharp claws that rip my chest open and tear out my heart.
Now I’m here, standing at the beach, listening to the waves roll by. No, I am not alive. My life was short, only 22 years but now I get to stand here without a heartbeat, without a breath, listening to the ocean waves and feeling the corse sand between my toes.
God of the Sea and the Isles
Waves of cerulean glass shattered themselves against the jagged shoreline in a ceaseless battle between earth and water. The collision reverberated as a thunderclap and sent up billowing clouds of salted mist, obscuring the vision of the open sea beyond. The air simmered with equatorial fire, unable to escape the clouds holding close to the sand and rock.
Gulls and other shore birds called out to one another through the fog, seeking solace in companionship and knowing they were not alone. Perhaps they were calling out to the lone human soul walking down the beach. A man at the upper end of youth, skin a dark rich brown and corded with muscle. His right hand grasped a mighty spear of ebony and iron and his left hefted a solid shield of bone and bronze.
“Why do you come here son of man? This is no place for you.” The Gulls cried.
“I am Abidemi and I come here to slay monsters.”
“Then you come here to die.”
“Nay, I come here so that I might live.”
The Gulls called yet again, their derisive voices rising in unison, laughing at Abidemi. They mocked his quest for they had never seen a human land voluntarily on these windswept shores.
They were also afraid.
Afraid that the monster would be awakened from long slumber and of his wrath descending from the mountain and sweeping all before it.
Abidemi was not afraid.
Abidemi knew the beast of the isle. He knew it was the same that smashed his village into ruin. The same that stole the lives of his ancestors. Sacrifices to the dark god of the sea and the isles.
Abidemi knew that a god could bleed. Not a single life more would be made sacrifice to the slavering jaws of madness. Abidemi would look into the eyes of oblivion and there he would see fear.
Abidemi was going to kill a god.
Before Elizabeth knew it, her life was over. Childhood sped by with high-pitched laughter, high school slogged on with groans of discomfort, college passed in a whirlwind of essays, exams, and far too much caffeine. Her 20s were electric and passionate, culminating in marriage to a sleek-looking banker; her 30s were milder and motherly, spanning the birth and early years of two wide-eyed children; her 40s were full of existential dread and parental anxiety; her 50s were a hiatus amidst the melee of life. By 60, she’d fallen out of love with her husband—though whether she was ever really in love with him had been a long unanswered question. Despite the loveless partnership, fear of social judgment kept Elizabeth by his side; divorce was an option reserved for untethered younger generations.
She spent her 70th birthday at a little beach in the Pacific Northwest with her children, their children, one golden retriever, and her husband. The party sat on the beach for her birthday dinner, spreading out checkered blankets and admiring the pre-dusk light dancing upon the waves. The waves. Elizabeth stared at the waves, feeling a sort of bittersweet nostalgia. The ocean waved at her, beckoning, calling, and Elizabeth wanted to wave back. She stood up, and her body groaned. Her bones were weary, far too weary, and her muscles were tired, far too tired. Elizabeth couldn’t believe she was only 70, and she couldn’t believe she was already 70. Time had passed.
Monsters are real, Elizabeth thought. Not the fantastic beasts from the bedtime stories her mother once read, not the ghouls and ghosts from the horror stories her friends once told, not some intangible and incorporeal entity with fangs and claws and glowing red eyes. No, the real monster was time. Time passed relentlessly, carrying Elizabeth along with it, forcing her to age, bringing her ever closer to death.
Elizabeth forced her weary body forward. She couldn’t hear her family anymore, couldn’t turn her eyes away from the waves. Her bare feet sunk into the sand with every step. A clean breeze brushed against her cheek, smelling of salt and memory, and Elizabeth felt a sense of peace as she stepped into the ocean.
Glicko’s Parting Gift
"They're gone! Glicko and Kari are gone!" Rick cried out.
"We'll worry about them later." The Pirate said calmly. "We have to deal with whatever this is that Glicko left behind for us."
"We've got this." Cerissa added. "We now have another mage on our side, thanks to Essie." She then turned to Essie and nodded with a smile.
"Yes Cerissa, I will do all I can to help you all." Essie replied, smiling back.
A giant wave that Glicko had summoned before departing roared over the crew's heads, landing in the sand a few feet away. Sand figures began rising from the sand, staring at the crew with evil red eyes. The figures then materialized into people the heroes were familiar with. The figures no longer looked like sand monsters, but now looked like indistinguishable versions of Petunia, Cerissa, Essie, and Rick's parents.
"Mom, Dad, is it really you?" Rick asked, choking up.
"I'm so sorry Rick, but I sense that they are imposters." Essie said sympathetically. "They are as fake as the Essie standing with them."
"These folks are probably not friendly, and it seems like each one has been customized for each of us individually." The Pirate told his allies. "The beach appears to be deserted, so let's give each other some room for dealing with our challengers."
"Agreed." Cerissa responded. "Stick with me though Essie, I have a feeling our foes will be coming at us with a similar attack. Let's team up against them."
"Sounds good Cerissa." Essie said kindly. "I know we're just meeting, but I feel like I knew you in my old life, before my memory was taken away."
"I feel the same way." Cerissa said with a smile. "I look forward to getting to know you again."
Rick's parents approached him, with sadistic smirks on their faces.
"Yeah, my parents would never look at me like that." Rick said with resolve. "You've got to go!"
To be continued....