Salt

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Doctor Roy Parker stood on the end of the pier, huddled in a huge winter coat and looking around. Everyone thought him mad to take a seaside holiday in February but he embraced it. The quietness at the out of season resort, the emptiness of the beach and town, no worries or cares, created a perfect escape from an intense twenty-four hours- seven days a week hospital job.

Resting his arms on the rotting wooden rail, Roy watched and listened to the gale force winds creating mini sand storms along the beach below. Out at sea, the wave tops were whipped into meringue peaks which then crashed onto the shore and got left behind by the large rasping, rolling salty water.

Rain started falling, fat drops plopping onto the wooden boards, the damp sand and stormy sea. Roy didn’t mind, this was nature at one of it’s wildest moments and he could just become lost in the raging weather. He balanced himself against the elements, letting them sweep everything away for a good while.

The wind became more violent, throwing sand and waves upwards to Roy. A tingle of danger went through him and the Doctor decided he’d had enough for the moment. With rain and sand grains clinging to him and sea salt the only thing he could smell, Roy finally turned away and walked back to the large dome cafe that dominated the middle of the pier.

He opened the door and was greeted by a gentle warm hug of air. Choosing a seat near a  right hand side window, Roy noticed he was the fourth customer in the cafe. Two old ladies in their seventies or eighties, sat a few tables away in the center row, were enjoying a meal. To the far left, next to a rain coated window, a young man in his twenties or thirties, sat with his eyes closed and hands around a white mug. A yellow Labrador guide dog sit at his feet, tongue lolling, face attentive.

The rest of the tables, though set for customers were empty, giving an eerily abandoned impression to the place which the weather made all the more real.

Looking towards the counter and kitchen area, Roy saw a bored teenage girl at the till putting a brownie onto a plate. Listening, he heard a soft brush of musical notes coming from the kitchen along with the smell of mingled hot food and coffee.

Roy picked up the plastic covered menu wedged behind glass salt and pepper shakers and a bottle of vinegar. He scanned the deserts and drinks list then turned the menu over to see the meals. There wasn’t a lot of choice but that wasn’t a surprise.

Meanwhile, the waitress took the brownie to the blind man and spoke to him for a few minutes. She patted the guide dog’s head. Roy got the impression they knew each other which in this small town was easy to believe. Then the girl turned, coming towards him whilst digging out a paper pad and pen from her white apron bag.

‘Hi, what can I get you?’ she asked in a fake bright voice.

‘A pot of tea,’ Roy answered.

The girl noted it down.

‘And fish and chips.’

The girl made to nod then replied, ‘if you order the special it comes with tea, bread and butter.’

‘Is that a pot or just a cup?’ Roy asked, avoiding the temptation to look at the menu again.

The waitress thought for a moment as if she had forgotten or was deciding something, ‘I can make it a pot,’ she stated and wrote on her pad again.

‘Thank you,’ Roy said.

The girl walked off and disappeared into the kitchen. Roy listened for voices but the wind, rain and sea were in storm mode and all other sounds were now blocked out. Turning to the window, Roy watched the rain pounding against the glass and clouding the view which he imagined on a nice summer day was a picturesque beach.

He was lost in his thoughts for awhile, so when the waitress appeared with his tea, Roy was slightly startled.

‘There you go,’ the girl said as she set a tea pot, milk jug, sugar bowl and cup down.

Roy thanked her as she headed back to the kitchen then looked at the mismatched and dented tea set. The poor sliver colored tea pot had seen better days, the rim of the sugar bowl was chipped and the darker sliver milk jug looked like it could fall apart. He gingerly poured the steaming tea and fridge cool milk into his tea cup.

‘Excuse me, Sadie,’ a man’s voice called loudly.

Roy looked about and saw the blind man trying to attracted the waitress attention.

‘I’ll get her for you, dear,’ one of the old ladies spoke.

‘We are leaving now, Mark,’ the second replied.

‘Thank you, Iris and Lilly. I want to leave too,’ the blind man answered, ‘the storm sounds bad, so I’m going to get a taxi.’

They both got up. The first lady, who was wearing a powder pink felt coat and had a hint of pink in her white permed hair, walked slowly to the counter. The other lady dressed in a pale blue felt coat and with blue wisps in her white hair, went over to the blind man.

Roy watched, wondering if they were twins or sisters or friends.

The waitress appeared at the counter, talked to Iris or Lilly then picked up a phone.

The old lady went back to her sister or friend and after saying goodbye to Mark and his dog, headed for the door.

Roy braced himself to feel the bite of the wind as the door opened but he was sat far enough away that he felt just a whisper of the chilly wet air. He picked up his tea and took a few sips, feeling warmth sinking into him.

The girl appeared at his side and placed two plates down, one had two slices of bread and small pot of butter, the other held his fish and chips.

‘There you are. Is there anything else you need?’ she asked.

‘No, thank you,’ Roy answered.

With a single nod, the girl swept away and over to the blind man. She talked to him, no doubt saying she had ordered a taxi.

Roy arranged the plates of food how he wanted them then put salt and vinegar on his fish and chips. He picked up his knife and folk from the white napkin and started eating. It wasn’t the best meal he’d ever had but it tasted great today. The chips had just a crunch to their outside and were soft in the middle. The fish was lightly and crispy battered, soft and tender inside. With the added salt and vinegar the whole thing came together in one celebration in Roy’s mouth.

So distracted was he, Roy didn’t noticed the blind man leaving till he felt a touch of cold. Looking up and towards the door, he saw the man going out and the waitress helping him. She closed the door and hurried through the cafe into the warmth of the kitchen.

Alone, Roy took a moment to glance around then carried on eating. The fish was tasty, though the salt was drying out his lips and he had to keep licking them. He drink some more tea to help. Unable to stop, he ate quickly, forgotten how he’d built his hungry by a morning walk in the town, then along the edge of the beach and around the pier.

He was finished before he knew it. Pouring the last of the tea, Roy hugged the cup and listened to a rumble of thunder in the distance. He looked out of the window and though it was hard to think the weather had gotten worse, it seemed just that.

Roy finished his tea and sat relaxing for a few minutes. Coldness crept over him and he felt stiff in his legs and back from the plastic chair. Perhaps, it was just his imagination but he felt a slight rocking motion.

Getting up, he went to the counter and looked for the girl. A door labeled kitchen was open in the back wall and Roy could hear radio music more clearly now.

‘Hello? he called, his voice sounding loud in the empty cafe.

‘Coming,’ the girl called back.

She appeared, trying to turn a scowl into smile.

‘The bill, please. And if it’s not too much trouble could you phone me a taxi?’

‘Here you go, the girl said and handed him a slip of paper, ‘and yes, I can. Where are you going too?’

‘To the Mermaid Hotel,’ Roy replied as he dug out his wallet.

The girl took his money and made the call. He listened as she said the address of the cafe and the hotel. She hung up the phone and turned back to him, ‘The taxi will be a few minutes and pick you up from the pier enterence.’

‘Thanks,’ Roy answered, he added a ‘goodbye,’ and went to the door.

Preparing to step out into the storm, Roy took a deep breath and opened the door. Rain that felt solid hit him and the strong wind tried to force him back. Roy wrestled with the elements, hurried out and back along the pier.

‘It is swaying!’ he cried.

Daringly, he looked over the safety rail and saw the sea waves arching upwards around the wooden supports. Imagines of the pier collapsing, the buildings crashing down and himself thrown into those violent waves flashed through his mind.

Panicked, Roy ran off the pier, slipping on the wet boards and dodging the small buildings and stalls that were dotted around. He made it safely to the enterence which was an indoor hallway connecting the street to the pier.

Huddling inside there, water dripping everywhere, Roy looked out for his taxi. A rumble of thunder made him jump then laughing loudly, Roy let all his fear go. Of course, the pier was moving! It was built to do so! How else would a wood and iron structure survive the sea? And the storm was only that and nothing to be scared over.

A red car pulled up outside, horn blaring.

Roy opened the door, walked out and got into the taxi.

‘The Mermaid Hotel,’ he said to the reflection of the driver’s face in the rear view mirror.

‘Right O,’ the driver spoke and peeled the car away.

Gull Crash #3LineTales

three line tales, week 148: gulls over a stormy sea

The stormy sea was throwing up all kinds of things and the gulls were going crazy for the fish that were being tossed up in the crashing white crested waves.

It was a sign to get off the ocean to return safely to harbour, the fishing was over for another season and all the boats were making their way back, the last catch secured below decks like a glittering treasure.

On the land, twinkling fairy lights and the sweet smell of food welcomed them back, it was almost time for the end of year celebrations, their families had been working hard to prepare for and now with the additional fish the town would survive through the winter months to come.

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2018/11/29/three-line-tales-week-148/ with thanks).

Home Comfort

Brown, Carton, Chips, Cholesterol, Cod, Delicious

There was just something comforting about coming home after a holiday and eating their favorite food despite everything else they had eaten whilst they had been traveling.

Fish

Fish Bowl, Fish, Glass, Water, Bowl, Goldfish, Aquarium

There was something both calming  and reassuring about watching the fish swimming around their tank. It almost made the visit to the dentist’s easier.

Trust (Part 15)

As they left the apartment, Fern thought about telling Brook about the man she had sensed. However, when she turned around she saw he had pulled the hood of his hoodie up and put his hands into the single deep pocket. He had all ready started walking too, heading around the back of the apartment block. Fern followed in silence.

The side and back of the complex was very much like the front with short grass lawns boarded by trees and low bushes. Fern paused when they were a quarter of the way across the back lawn and looked around. In the distance straight ahead, she could just make out a dirt clearing which was the outline for what would have been another block of apartments. Between them in the grass she could make out two white stringed and wooden pegged rectangles.

‘What are they for?’ she asked Brook’s retreating back.

Fern saw him cast a look over to where she was pointing before replying, ‘outlines for a swimming pool and tennis court.’

‘Oh. Okay,’ she muttered thoughtfully.

‘It was going to be a holiday venue, remember?’ Brook shot over his shoulder.

Fern nodded and hurried to catch up with him. She fell into step behind him and tried to figure out where they were heading too. They reached the edge of the lawn and Brook stepped off into the woodland area which as Fern saw seemed to circle the area. The trees overhead blocked out the rest of the light from the sky and created monstrous shadows onto the ground.

Brook moved with surprising stealth but Fern failed to match his steps. She found herself tripping over roots and small plants. Low twigs snatched at her hair and scrapped her clothes. She stopped and gathered herself, taking in deep breaths of the damp, earthy, tree sap aroma that hung in the air. When she set off, she moved slowly and took the time to take in everything around her.

Stepping out from under the last tree, she saw a narrow line of mud running parallel to a low barbed wired fence. Beyond which was a farmer’s fields. Fern walked over to the fence and looked for Brook. It took her a good few minutes to pick him out across the field. She looked down and wondered how he had gotten over.

Thinking that there must be a stile or something close by, she walked for a few minutes in one direction then came back and tried the other. The fence was continuous. Frowning and feeling worried, she tried to pick Brook’s figure out of the darkness again, but she could no longer see him.

‘Brook?’ she called in small voice.

Cleaning her throat she tried again then waited for his response.

Nothing but a gentle breeze answered.

Pulling a face, she looked at the barbed wire and found that were large enough gaps between the twist metal knots for her to place her hands in. Gritting her teeth, she did just that then carefully placed her feet on the bottom wire. The whole thing shook under her weight, but it did hold her. She stepped up again, trying to keep her balance. She swung her leg over and moved her hands at the same time.

Laughing, she climbed over the fence and began walking across the empty field. When she reached the other side and another fence, she had thought Brook would be waiting for her. He was nowhere in sight. Panic filled her empty stomach and Fern turned around madly as she shouted his name over and over again.

She grabbed the fence and felt the bite of sharp metal in her palms. Springing back, she stumbled and fell to the ground. Shaking and crying, Fern licked at her left palm and tasted the warmth of her blood. She wrapped her lips to the punctures and sucked. Blood filled her mouth and she hummed happily. Before she knew it, she had done the same with her right hand and both wounds had healed over.

Fern got up, wiped the dirt from her jeans and tried to figure out which way to go. She climbed over the fence, feeling her senses heighted. Her nose picked up the scent of blood and she let that be her guide. She crossed the rest of the farmer’s fields and found herself on a single road. Following that lead her to more farmland, but the growing scent of blood called still. She walked on, losing all other thoughts and senses, only paying attention to the sweet, salty tang that wafted on the breeze.

Somehow and she had no idea how she had gotten there, Fern found herself entering a fishing yard. Slipping through the gate, she stood and listened to gentle sea waves lapping against the dock walls and boats. Mixed in were male voices, faint music from a radio and the chiming of bells. The air was heavy with fish, death and salt. Staying against the gate, Fern sniffed and tried to pick up the trail of blood.

It had gotten so faint, she realised that she could hardly detect it. She went to the side of one of the small warehouses and peered in. Shadows of two fisherman moving crates were displayed on the wall. Fern listened for a few moments then moved on, she circled around the other warehouses till at the last one, she picked up the blood again.

Aware that there men inside, she stepped in and moved along the wall. Right at the back was an office like room and inside three men were talking, one of whom had a bandaged up hand. Fern sighed and licked her lips. She felt the urge to dive right in and sink her teeth into the man. Her other instincts held her back and knowing the man would leave soon, she walked out of the warehouse and found some shadows close by to hide in.

Luckily, he was the first to come out and he was alone. Without even thinking about it, Fern begin to make childlike sobbing sounds. The man turned, his attention caught. Fern still crying stepped further back along the warehouse, covering herself in more shadows. She saw the man walking over and looking around.

‘Hello? Is anyone there?’ his rough voice called out.

Fern let out a louder longer sob.

‘Hello? It’s okay. Come out. I won’t hurt you…’

He moved closer, the shadows swallowing him as he approached Fern, who had gone silent. When he was close enough, she reached out her arms and dragged him into a hug. He tried to scream and fight her off, but Fern suffocated his face in her shoulder and buried her teeth into his neck. She sliced through salty damp skin and hot delicious blood filled her mouth. She swallowed and greedily began gulping more down.

She felt the man struggling useless against her. His hands were slapping and punching her upper body, his feet kicking out at her legs and his head trying to wiggle out of her shoulder. She could hear his muffled cries alongside his racing heartbeat as well. She bite down harder and sucked faster, fearfully aware that someone was bound to hear them.

Fern’s eyes darted up and looked over the man’s shoulder. She watched for any movements and listened hard for voices but everything remind in the background. She felt the man weakening as his struggle against her seemed to slow down. She however kept going, the blood feeling her making her feel powerful and satisfied. The man slumped in her arms and Fern had to take all of his body weight.

She could hear his heart slowing down too and felt drawn to making it stop. Her instincts spiked and she was suddenly aware of someone coming from behind her. Before she could let the man go, that someone forced themselves between them, tearing them apart. Fern tumbled to the floor, the cold sea air bringing her fully awake. She hit the hard ground and pain jarred through her back. Looking up, blood dripping her chin, Fern fully believed it was Brook standing with the man in his arms, finishing him off.

However, when he dropped the body and turned to face her, Fern saw he clearly wasn’t Brook.