❝Everyone warns me the Bone Beach is not what it sounds like. They say there’s no point in visiting, that no one understands its strange name.❞
It looks like a regular beach—pale water under the persistently cloudy skies lapping at the slightly pebbly sand at a regular rhythm, washing up the occasional piece of driftwood. It’s utterly empty, and remains so the whole time I’m there, even though the town’s just beyond the ridge leading to this beach. My only company is the v-formations of birds heading to warmer climes that pass overhead, calling mournfully to each other.
I set up camp out of reach of high tide, and I only leave to get necessities, like food that I don’t have to cook on my campfire or camping stove, or a hot shower at the community centre. On one such excursion, a few days after I arrived, I asked some of the locals why the beach was empty. Sure it was the tail-end of fall, so I wasn’t expecting swimmers, but I hadn’t even seen anyone out walking their dogs or enjoying a stroll.
They all said the same thing—they don’t go down to the Bone Beach. When I asked why, they never gave me a better answer than it isn’t done. No one seemed to appreciate that that isn’t a satisfying answer, but they also don’t seem to be hiding anything from me. They really do just avoid the beach completely.
It seems a shame, I think. It’s a nice beach. Quiet, peaceful. I have my books, when I get bored, and my phone, with access to the internet, and my sketchbook. I settle into my campsite, and I refuse to leave until something happens. I’m not sure why I’m so certain that something will happen, but I am. I can feel it in my gut; that all I have to do is wait.
Twelve days pass like this, and then on the thirteenth night, I wake suddenly.
I don’t at first realize what woke me. I lie in the dark, blinking at the canvas roof of my tent, and then that’s when it clicks. The tide…the susurrus of it has changed. It’s different. It’s no longer a whisper, inhale-exhale across the sands, a rolling shhhh.
Or rather it is, still, but there’s a different dimension to it. Like the water is…heavier, somehow. That doesn’t make sense, I think sleepily to myself, and sit up, wriggling out of my sleeping bag and crawling towards the tent flap to unzip it and poke my head out.
It’s a cloudless night, for once, the half moon enough to see by. I’m facing the water, and at first I think that a heavy snowfall has swept over the area without me noticing. But then my brain catches on to what my eyes are seeing.
It’s not water I’m looking at, frozen into a slurry.
My heart thuds hard in my throat. The tide recedes, advances.
Millions upon millions upon billions of bone fragments wash over the sand, bleached white and smooth.
Bone beach, I think with something between wonder and horror.
Fictober is a challenge where writers respond to a prompt a day for the whole of October.
This year's prompts are from Deep Water Prompts on tumblr.
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