By Melissa L. Webb
Neil walked along the beach, his sandaled feet sinking deep into the sand around him. He marveled at the warmth as the sun caressed his cheeks, leaving behind it playful touch. This feeling, right here, was pure bliss. He had never seen the ocean before and it was living up to everything he’d ever dreamed. He smiled contently as he watched the gulls playing in the surf.
Yes, this was what he had always been searching for. It was time for a change. He would leave behind his old life and move out here; find a nice place right on the beach and live happily-ever-after. This was the place his soul longed to be, not rotting away in the country, lost among the corn.
He inhaled deeply, the astringent sea air tickled his nose as he took in everything around him. A man could die happy right here.
He moved on, his sandals slapping sand as he ventured farther along the beach. He wanted to see everything this coastal paradise offered him. Everything that would be his once he started anew.
He stopped short when he noticed a campfire up ahead of him. A group of people sat around it, basking in the warmth of the flames.
Neil frowned slightly, glancing up at the bright blue sky. It had to be at least 85 degrees out here. Why did they need a fire? He watched them a moment longer. They seemed to be enjoying the flames dancing in front of them. Who was he to judge what might be a common practice on the coast?
The smile once again found his lips as he stepped forward, eager to see what a campfire at the beach entailed. He moved quickly as he watched them huddle around the fire. Maybe they would let him join them. He’d love to have actual friends here before he moved.
“Hello,” Neil called out to them as he approached their makeshift ring. “Do you guys mind if I join you?”
The heads quickly turned and stared in his direction. Or they would have, if they had had eyes.
He stopped dead in his tracks as his mouth kept opening and closing; as if it wanted to say something but couldn’t find a voice. His mind just couldn’t comprehend what he was seeing. None of these people had any faces. It was simply pale flesh pulled taunt against the front of their heads. It was as if they were blank canvases waiting for the artist to arrive.
Neil stared into blankness before his eyes and began to tremble. Whatever these things were, it wasn’t something he wanted to mess with. He realized quickly that he shouldn’t be standing here. This was a dangerous place. One full of secrets and darkness.
He turned quickly, fleeing back up the beach as fast as his sandals would carry him. He was no longer enchanted by what the coast had to offer. He was certainly better off among the corn.
© 2011 Melissa L. Webb
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