Beach summers; sand between toes, sea in ears, ice cream on tongues, making memories that last a life time.
Beach summers; sand between toes, sea in ears, ice cream on tongues, making memories that last a life time.
It was that time of year again and as she looked out of her office window, she long to be away. Some place quiet and warm. Where it was always sunny and not raining. Where blue ocean meet white sands and the sky went on forever. Turning back to her computer, she did a quick search on a travel site and a few clicks later, she had booked a week’s holiday on a beach.
Anomaly; something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected.
What was that thing in the sky? Dream paused and stared harder across the vast, empty landscape. Against the pale blue sky was a beam of multicolored light. She frowned then pulled out her telescope from her belt and had a closer look. Still though, she could make out nothing further, but the colors looked brighter now.
‘What is that?’ she spoke aloud.
‘Your big butt!’ a voice shouted at her.
Dream rolled her eyes and tutted. Putting the telescope away, she twisted her head, so she was looking back down the ladder. A glow of light showed the way and at the bottom waiting was a figure grinning up at her. Dream snatched a small rock from the surface and dropped it down.
‘Ouch! Watch it!’
Swallowing a laugh, Dream pulled herself out of the pipe and climbed down. Her feet hit the sand and rose a dust cloud around her. Making sure her mask and goggles were secure, she began walking in the direction of the strange light beam.
Minutes later, she was joined by a tall, red haired young man. He punched her in the shoulder then raced off. Dream stopped and rubbed the spot, though her leather padded jacket had taken much of the impact. Muttering revenge, Dream watched him slow down as he saw the thing in the sky too.
‘What do you think that is?’ he called over his shoulder.
‘No idea, Link,’ she replied, ‘I was on my way to check it out when you interrupted me,’ Dream answered.
‘I’m sorry your Royal Highness. Please continue!’ Link mocked and give a fancy bow.
Dream stormed passed him, trying not to hit him as she went. He came to her side moments later and in a awe silence, they walked towards the beam of colors. The landscape rose and fall around them, the yellow sand all that could be seen for miles. The only sound was their footsteps and the wind shifting the fine grains against each other.
‘We’re never going to get there!’ Link broke in after awhile.
Dream came to a stop on top of a large dune and looked across at the beam. She could see it better now, but it seemed to be fading. The colors were arching up from the ground to the sky were they disappeared into the blue.
‘It looks like a path into the sky,’ she mused.
‘Don’t be stupid!’ Link snapped, ‘I don’t care what it is. Let’s go back. It’s getting too hot.’
‘You go back if you want. I’m going to find where it meets the ground,’ Dream responded.
‘Are you crazy?’
Dream didn’t reply, but walked off. The loose sand give way under her and she half skidded down the side of the dune. At the bottom, she found her feet and carried on walking. From behind her came the sound of Link half running half tumbling to join her.
‘Dream! Stop!’ he shouted.
She ignored him and picked up her pace. Breaking into a jog, she went around another dune and found herself in a maze of sand hills. Taking in a few deep breaths, she scrambled up the first one and looked down.
There below her was the source of the multi-colored light beam. Thanking her luck, she went down and towards it.
‘Dream! Where are you!’ Link yelled.
‘Over here!’ she shouted back, ‘I’ve found it. It’s some kind of crystal!’
Dream knelt down and looked closely at the clear cut rock that was half buried in the ground. Beams of light were shinning off it as the sunlight was touching it. Dream slowly reached out to touch it.
‘Don’t!’ Link gasped as he came to join her.
She looked at him, but couldn’t fully read his expression behind his mask.
‘It’s just a crystal. Like the ones you dig up all the time,’ she said.
‘It might be from the World Before. We shouldn’t touch it. We know what it is now, let’s go,’ Link spoke.
Dream looked at the crystal, tempted by it’s beauty. Link was right though.
‘It could be important,’ she thought aloud, ‘and if we leave it, it might not be here later.’
‘I don’t like it,’ Link muttered.
Dream shrugged and put her gloved hand onto of the crystal. The beam of light disappeared. Dream curled her fingers around the rock and picked it up. It was smaller and lighter then it had looked. She opened her hand and straight away the colors came back and danced around the surface of the crystal.
‘How weird,’ Dream uttered.
‘Can we go now?’ Link demanded.
Dream closed her fingers over the crystal again and got up,’sure. Maybe someone back home will know what this is,’ she added.
Story inspired by Sue’s prompt at https://scvincent.com/2016/11/03/thursday-photo-prompt-anomaly-writephoto/ – click to read the other stories.
The beach was the only place she felt free. Sitting on the warm sand, the surf just touching her feet, she could imagine she was anywhere and anyone.
She clung onto a piece of driftwood, praying for daylight. Around her, the sea and the fading storm echoed in her ears, blocking out every other sound. A huge wave slammed into her and she clung to the plank with all her might. Trying not to cry out and keep her eyes shut, she let the wave roll over.
The driftwood popped out and she come up with it. Spluttering and gasping for breath, she opened her eyes and tried to looked through the darkness. She could not see anything but the dark sea and the black sky. Tasting nothing but salt in her mouth, she pulled herself further up the plank and tightened her grip.
She wanted to rest her head on the wood, exhaustion was dancing before her, but somehow the strength came back to her as another wave came and sent her into a spin. Fighting down a scream, she let the sea do it’s worse whilst still praying for daylight and land.
The wave hit, catching her the skirts of her dress and dragging her down. She wrestled against the current then she popped up again, dragging in lung fulls of oxygen. Untangling her hand from her skirts, she clutched the board again.
Something hard brushed her bare feet. What was it? She tried to explore more with her toes, but couldn’t decided if it was rocks, the sea floor, an animal or something else. Trying not to panic and knowing she did not have the energy for it, she let the next wave carry her further forward.
Fighting the pull back, she put her feet down and felt confident it was only rocks under her. Battling the sea, she walked using the plank to keep her a float. Suddenly, the rock changed and she felt sand between her toes. Crying out, she used the last of her strength to struggle onto the shore.
Climbing up out of the sea’s reach, she collapsed on to the sand and hugged herself. Trying to look around, she saw the beach was as dark as the sea. A bolt of lighting far in the distant had her gaze darting back. A rumble of thunder followed, but it was nothing compared to the roaring of the sea.
She carried on watching, but could not see anything else then there was a glow of light on the horizon. She watched it growing and slowly realized it could only be the coming dawn. Her prayers had been answered.
Ace put his boots on the dashboard of the pickup truck and lowered his cowboy hat over his face. Soft, sad county music was whispering out of the radio speakers, but it was barely audible over the cold air con, engine rumble and wheels crunching over stones and red sand. He breathed deeply and started daydreaming about the curvy blonde waitress at the last diner they had stopped at.
Red, who was at the wheel, shot his cousin a dirty look. The truck wasn’t new, but even so there was just something about Ace relaxing that got to him. Maybe it was because Red had done all the driving today? Glancing over again, Red could easily see why that waitress at the diner had thought they were twins. They did look so alike with their short black hair, wide jaw line and broad shoulders. The fact they were both wearing leather cowboy boots, jeans, dark t-shirts, brown leather jackets and hats also did not help.
Trying not to grind his teeth, Red looked further down the desert road and towards the mountains. Something glinted in the burning sunlight to his right. Wondering what it was, Red eased back on the gas and watched the object take form. In the shimmering heat it looked like a mirage and he wondered if he had been driving for too long.
‘Hey, Ace. Look,’ Red said loudly.
Ace shifted, grumbled something and pulled his hat off. He looked at Red questionably and slightly angrily, ‘what’s it?’
‘Something’s over there,’ Red answered and pointed at the object.
Ace looked over, taking his boots of the dashboard as he did so. At first he was not sure what it was growing out of the otherwise desert landscape, but then he recognised the long yellow rectangle shape.
‘It’s a school bus,’ he cried.
‘A school bus? Out here in the middle of nowhere?’ Red asked, puzzlement filling his voice.
‘Let’s take a look,’ Ace added as if he had not heard his cousin.
Red nodded and drove the truck over. He parked just off the road and cut the engine. Looking out, he saw that Ace had been right and there was a school bus seemly abandoned in the sand. Wondering how long it had been there for, Red opened his door and got out. Straight away the desert heat hit him like a baseball bat and he began to have second thoughts.
Ace though had flung open his door and was already quickly walking over. Dust trailing in his awake and the sound of his boots the only noise to be heard.
Closing his door then going around and closing the passenger door, Red followed Ace over. He looked at the desert floor as they went, but could not see any tire tracks or other trails. It was possible the bus had been there weeks or months, but he also knew how fast things could change out here, so maybe it had only recently been left?
Ace reached the bus before he did and started looking around it. Red headed straight for the door and found it open. Sand was piled against the steps, indicating that it had been abandoned. He stepped in, knowing he might find more clues inside. He noticed dust on the mirror and wheel. There were no keys though. The seats all had a layer of red sand dust on them too. The air smelt hot and musty.
‘Been here awhile then?’ Ace called from the doorway.
‘Couple of months maybe? It still looks okay in here,’ Red replied over his shoulder.
He walked further down, minding his head and looking for anything else that would help pin down the time or suggest why the bus was here. Red heard Ace getting on board and start messing with the driving wheel and wires.
Then something caught Red’s eye and he stopped. It was a kid’s denim jacket. He picked it up, but there was no name on the label and the pockets were empty. Putting it back, he then found a lunch pack a few seats down. It was also empty, but he was grateful for that as any food would not have lasted long in this heat.
‘Think we can strip it?’ Ace called over.
‘Someone still might come back for it,’ Red answered as he reached the end of the bus.
He picked up a book that had been left on the back seat. It was a children’s horror story and he remembered the series from his own childhood. He flipped through the pages then pocket it.
‘Na, I don’t think they are,’ Ace spoke out.
Red made his way back to his cousin and looked out of the grime covered window. He could just see the red mountains and a tall cactus. The heat was still raising and he felt like he was baking in the bus. Wiping his forehead, he wondered if it was worth the effort to remove things they could easily sell.
‘I’m going to get the tool box,’ Ace declared.
He slide off the driver’s seat and went out of the door. Red watched him disappear out and around the side of the bus. He moved to get off too and something crunched under his boot. He looked down and saw it was an M&M.
Rubbing her temples, Miss Quine fell into questioning why she had agreed to this trip. Behind her, the bus full of shouting eight and nine year olds was reaching it’s peak. Trying to ignore her school class, she looked out of the window and saw the same scene that she had seen half an hour ago; the desert. The dark yellow, red sand stretched all around them, sometimes tufts of green poked up breaking it up, but she could not name the plants. Ahead of them appeared some mountains, but they looked long off in the distance.
She glanced across at her teaching assistant, Miss Pointer, who was busy trying to stop Timmy from throwing M&Ms at Becky. Stepping in, Miss Quine quickly defused things and took the rest of the candy off him. Timmy sat down in a huff and began blowing bubbles with his saliva. Miss Pointer helped the crying Becky settle back down again.
Miss Quine shoved the packet into her bag then looked for the other four adults amongst the twenty-five children. Mr Seale and Mr Greene were roughly in the middle and singing along with the wheels on the bus song that some demon child had started up. Mrs Fisher and Mr Bennet were at the back and looked so deep in conversation that they had not notice William wiping his nose pickings on the window.
Miss Quine sighed and decided she didn’t have the energy to deal with that. She turned to face the front of the bus again and caught a worried look flash across the driver’s face. Before she had time to ask, she heard the engine make a weird sound and the bus suddenly jerked off the road as if it was a dog being pulled on a leash.
They bounced and skid across the desert. Sand and stones peppered and rattled off the bus as the brakes give a loud squeal. The children started screaming and crying whilst the adults hurried to calm them. The bus spun into a stop and the engine cut out.
Miss Quine snatched a few breaths then stood shaky up. Stepping over to the bus driver she saw he was tightly gripping the wheel. She patted him on the shoulder, called his name and asked if he was okay. After a few moments he came to life and nodded, ‘is everyone okay?’ he shouted.
A half-hearted reply muttered back to him, mingled with sobs and sniffs.
‘I’ll see what’s up,’ he answered, ‘everyone stay on the bus.’
The driver opened the doors and got out. Miss Quine watched him inspecting the bus then felt a tug on her jumper. She looked down and Roy was standing directly there.
‘Miss, I got to go,’ he said quietly.
Miss Quine rolled her eyes and looked up to see if one of the gentlemen was free. They all seemed busy though and she was unable to catch any of their eyes.
‘Okay, Roy,’ she said.
Miss Quine stepped off the bus and he followed her. The earth felt hot under her feet and the air seemed to shimmer around them.
‘Go over there, where no one can see,’ Miss Quine directed as she pointed the child across the road and towards a large cactus, ‘keep away from that though,’ she added.
Roy nodded and took off. Miss Quine turned to the bus driver, who had opened the bonnet and was looking inside.
‘What’s the problem?’ she asked.
‘I think it over heated….not sure…might have to go and get some help,’ the bus driver replied.
‘Help? Out here?!’
‘Don’t worry. There’s a little shop a few miles down this road. We can walk there, be good for the kids.’
Miss Quine looked down the road, but could not see anything. She clicked her tongue and decided there was no choice. Getting back on the bus, she rounded up her class, told them what was going on and after a brief argument with some of them, they all got off the bus and walked down the road.
Staying in their seat arrangements with their buddy, the row of children and adults started walking with the bus driver leading the way. The children talked loudly, pointing out all kinds of things and seemly happy they were now free of the confinement of the bus. Miss Quine took off her jumper, already feeling warm then paused as some of the kids darted off to look at a lizard.
Walking on and the sun shone down, making everyone hot and grumpy. A few times the kids asked if they where there yet and if they were lost and if they could stop. Miss Quine forced them all on whilst she prayed the shop was close. Telling them to sing a song, she whispered to the bus driver, ‘how much further?’
‘Couldn’t tell you,’ he replied.
Miss Quine gritted her teeth and decided this wasn’t the time to give him a piece of her mind.
Finally, a small white building appeared at the side of the road. The kids cried out and pointed at it. Those that had the energy started running whilst the rest tried to get the adults to move faster. Miss Quine sank onto the porch, her feet sore, her t-shirt soaked in sweat and her face bright red. Someone give her a bottle of water and she gulped it down.
The voices of the children faded into the background for a few moments and Miss Quine sorted herself out. The bus driver came up to her as the last of the children vanished into the shop, which Miss Quine guessed had never had so many people in it before.
‘It’s not far to the town. I’ll leave you here now and go and get some help. Should be back soon,’ the driver said.
Miss Quine nodded, thanked him then watched him walk off down the road. Behind her she heard a fight break out and she stormed into the shop.
There was something taking shape in the distant. I stopped, wondering what it was as I reached for my water and map. Taking a few mouthfuls of warmish water, I then checked the map and roughly pinpointed where I was. Looking up again, I saw the desert flat before me and the red mountains close by framed by the deep blue sky. The huge objected was there before the first mountain, a white and red patchy rectangle shape it seemed to be.
Putting my water skin and map away again, I walked on, determined to find out what the object was. Maybe it was something that would give me shade in this otherwise empty sand-scape or further shelter for the night. Small puffs of dust rose around my boots, sand was already clinging to me so a little more would make no difference. My legs and arms were achy and I knew soon I’d have to stop for a rest.
The object grew and soon enough I saw it was a bus. I paused, puzzling over why a bus would be in the middle of nowhere. I carried on walking, listening to the sound of the breeze shaking sand grit and my boots shuffling loudly. As soon as I reached the bus, I saw it was little more then a shell. The windows were all gone, so had the wheels and what was left was a rusty frame.
I looked through the space were the door had once been and saw that the inside was empty as well. I could just make out where the driver’s seat and wheel had been in front of me. Further down, where the outlines of the seats but the floor was just metal now. Heat came off the abandoned bus like an oven and I decided not to venture inside.
I walked around it, noticing the headlights were missing and so were any signs of what the bus might have been from and where it was heading too. Around the other side was a shadow outline and though the heat was still drifting off the metal, the sand was cool. I sank gratefully down and drink another mouthful of precious water.
My thoughts tumbled and I wondered how and why the bus had ended up here. Someone or someones had clearly stripped it down, perhaps before dumping it here. Maybe as a landmark? A looked up at the side of the bus and tried to see anything that would give me any clues.
Another thought popped into my head. What if there had been a trip of school children or tourists out to see the mountains and the bus had broken down or they had gotten lost? Stuck out here, they had no choice but to strip the bus down to use what they could as they tried to get out of here.
I smiled at my imagination and decided that here would be a good place to set up camp for the night. Checking my map, I saw that actually I wasn’t far from a ranch and then a small town. Maybe a day or two, three at the most? I checked my supplies, decided I’d be okay and set up my tent and stuff.
Crawling into my sleeping bag as the night settled in, my thoughts were still on the bus. Just how had it ended up here?
The only thing she wanted to do was escape. Looking out of the window whilst taking a break from cleaning, she sighed deeply into the broom handle. She couldn’t see anything other then the built up street from this angle.
She shut her eyes and imaged a beach some where and a boat jetty with a little house like building on the end. She thought about the sound of the sea lapping on the too golden sand and the cries of birds in the sunset sky above. The smell of salty air and warm summers drifting around on breezes that also soaked into your skin.
She felt the sand between her toes, saw the glitter of shells half buried and found a child’s abandoned castle. She let the small waves kiss her feet then walked along, trailing water from her floor touching skirts without a care in the world. She headed towards the welcoming lights from the jetty house, feeling a mix of damp sand and wood now under her feet.
She reached the door and pushed it open….
The sound of a car horn jerked her back and the broom almost dropped from her hands. Fumbling with it, she caught and looked out of the netted windows. It only seemed to be a neighbor parking up. Pulling a face, she got back to work her daydream fading once more.
Sitting on the golden beach, coconut shell cocktail in hand, I relaxed and decided to no longer regret spending the last of my divorce money on this island holiday. I sipped my too sweet, ice chilled drink and listened to the sea waves hitting the shore in the distance. What I wanted more than ever was to pretended I was completely alone right now, but the other tourists were making that impossible.
I sighed as once again I heard an argument coming from the bar area. Turning and nudging down my sunglasses, I looked over and saw a young couple at the dried grass roofed wooden bar. I couldn’t quite make out what had happened, but the fast hand gestures and aggressive body language of the man drew me in.
Sipping more of my drink, I kept an eye on them. Until, disgruntled the man give up and stalked off along the beach with the woman shouting at him to come back. Putting my sunglass back up, I used them to hide behind as I check out the rest of the beach. Ten feet to my right were a forty-something couple with a two year old boy. Before they had been building sandcastles and smothering each other in sun cream, but now they were all sleeping in the mid-afternoon heat. Beyond them the beach ran on before turning a graceful sweep and disappeared behind the tall coconut palms.
To my left, a handful more tourists in their too bright and short clothes lay or sat on the sand. A brave few had set off to towards the sea, their footprints trailing behind them. Three people were clustered around the shade of the bar as if it was a life raft and four others, like myself were sat on the beach’s edge in white lounges.
Taking a longer drink through the twin straws, I placed my coconut shell down on the little side table and thought about taking a nap too. However, my mind was much to awake, despite the heat. I pulled the trashy chick-lit novel from my wicker bag and began reading it. A few pages later, my eyes became distracted by a tall man arriving at the bar. I peered over my book at him, finding his dark brown curly hair familiar and drawn by his long arms.
He got a drink in a green coconut shell then went to a lounge close to mine. As he folded his legs and arms over, my memory sparked up. He was my high school history teacher, Mr. Ford. What was he doing here?
I shoved my book back into my face and felt a childlike panic borrowing inside of me. My thoughts reeled; was it really him? How can it be? What’s he doing here? Term has started already. Okay, okay. It’s not him, just some who looks like him. Just get back to reading and chilling.
I coughed then took a few sips of my drink and got back to my book. My noise and movements had drawn his eyes and I knew without even looking that he was staring at me. I waited, expecting any moment he would look away then I could peek at him again. Finally, when I give in and flashed my eyes to him, he was still staring. I concentrated hard on my book, but the words had blurred before me and I’d forgotten why the main male character no longer wanted to be with his girlfriend. I risked another look; our eyes met and held each other’s.
Yes, there was no doubting it. It was Mr Ford. I’d know that slightly curling grin of his and sooth baby face anywhere. He looked a bit older and I recalled working out the age gap between us once, I think it had come to around ten years. He had been fresh out of university and told us that we should always aim higher. Then he’d rambled on about the Second World War or the Cold War and we’d stare blankly at him.
I smiled at him and turned back to my book, but instead of reading, I fantasist meeting him later on and sneaking into his hotel bedroom. Just as I got the courage up to ask him if he wanted a drink, he got up and left. I put my book into my lap and watched him carry his drink back to the bar. He abandoned it on the side with a glare from the bar man, and continued along the beach.
Maybe it really wasn’t him?
I dropped my shoulders and grabbed my coconut. In a few mouthfuls, I had finished it, leaving only the sediment and sticky bits. I gathered my stuff and went back to my hotel room, my thoughts still fantasising that I’d bump into him again and we’d have a holiday romance.
By the time I got on the plane to go home, I still hadn’t seen him again.
And to the North there dwelled strange creatures indeed...
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