You turn around slowly. You see the beach chairs. You imagine happy families crowding the beach. Screaming little kids, hormone drenched teenagers in their first bikinis, tired parents reading the latest trashy best seller. All of them baking in the sun.
You sincerely hope that you did not eat any of them last night. Hopefully they were all off at putt-putt or seafood restaurants, and what you ate was a rabbit. Or a jellyfish, maybe. Or even a shark! You do remember feeling pretty badass. Maybe badass enough to eat a shark. Thereby protecting the happy families from shark attacks, which is much more morally acceptable than eating them.
There’s a couple of grills in the picnic area. Your stomach rumbles. You consider going into the little shack behind the picnic area and checking it out for anything to eat, but then you remember.
You may have eaten a happy family last night.
Also, you’re not really sure that you like the idea of cooking your food. After all, happy families are best eaten raw.
You shake your head, realizing that you’ve been standing here considering the merits of raw human meat versus grilled hot dogs for quite some time. Off in the distance, across the water, you notice what looks like a cabin.
Maybe there will be people there. People who can help, who can tell you where you are and what’s going on. Not people who might taste really good. You will not think about that. You will not.
There is the mouth of a river between the beach you’re on and the cabin, so you turn towards the road leading up and away from the beach. A car passes by. A hormone drenched teenager whistles at you, and you imagine claws and tearing flesh and blood. But the claws don’t come out, and you remember that you weren’t going to think about that.
Wherever you are, it’s beautiful. There’s a slight chill in the air, and a soft breeze blows through the trees. You look at the mountains in the distance. They’re gorgeous, but they’re wrong. The mountains, the hills, the evergreen trees, they’re all wrong. You can’t remember where home is, but you know this isn’t it.
You come to the bridge over the river. The old gray wood is weathered and scarred with the romantic declarations of the hormonal teenagers. Bella + Edward 4-Ever! Gunky wuz here and stole your girl. Fire. Death. Alone.
That last one gives you the creeps.
You stop and listen to the water. It slaps against the bridge supports. And, off in the distance, it roars.
The river ends at a pile of rocks, not too far from the bridge. You see the beach where you were this morning past the rocks.
The water roars and roars. It drowns out everything else. The roaring is all you hear. All you see. All you feel.
And then, a memory.
It feels right. It feels like home.
It also feels terrifying.
Your heart beats and beats and you can’t breathe and you can’t think and you want to run, you want to run away so fast, but you can’t, and the water roars.
Then the memory ends. The water roars, but it’s this waterfall, here in this place, and it’s loud but it’s safe. It’s not scary. It’s just a lot of water, falling down over rocks.
Your breath is ragged and the rush of adrenalin left your arms and legs shaking.
Maybe you don’t want to remember who you were before last night.
You put your hand on your chest and tell yourself to breathe, to calm down. Your heart rate slows. The shaking stops. Calmer now, you continue across the bridge.
There is a graveyard at the end of the road, past the bridge. Out where no one has to see it. Out where there are no screaming kids, no teenagers, no happy families.
Out where no one can hear you scream.
Right after thinking that, you hear something. Something that sounds like bones scrabbling against dirt. And groaning.
You walk faster.
You turn away from the bones and groans.
The cabin you saw this morning is really isolated, here at the end of town and down a hill. You wonder if anyone will be there. Your stomach growls.
There are no sounds of life, of people. There’s just the slap of your shoes on the sand and the sound of the waves crashing against the giant rocks.
There were those groans at the graveyard, and if there was a zombie apocalypse in this town anyone living here would probably be the first to go. But no, you saw that car earlier, and generally people don’t go to the beach for fun when there’s a zombie apocalypse happening. But then, maybe they just didn’t know about it, and it’s just now starting.
The cabin seems completely deserted. You walk around, not sure what you’re looking for. You haven’t seen any corpses with missing brains and gnawed bones, which you suppose that’s a relief. You stumble on a strange little house, hidden behind a bush.
It seems to glow. If you strain your ears, you can hear a faint buzz coming from it.
A red blob appears next to the little house, with what looks like tiny wings.
You wonder if the little dark red blob is a sign that you’ve been walking around out in the sun without eating for too long. You do feel a little dizzy, now that you think about it, and your stomach hurts. Maybe you should break into the cabin, see if there are any non-perishable food items around. Maybe there’s also a soft bed or even just a couch.
The little red blob pops. Into a person. A person with dark red wings that hum and sparkle.
Everything goes blurry and you feel really really cold, and then….