A place for horror or darker stories, mostly written for 'Screams!!!'
| Getting Away From It All
Things had become so hectic recently that I decided I had to get away. Just for a bit; a week or even a couple of days would do. I'd find a nice beach resort, out of season so it wouldn't be too crowded, and then I'd relax and recharge my mental batteries.
The resort I chose was busy enough. I spent a day lounging around, drinking pina coladas with cherries not on sticks but on tridents. This was a sea resort after all, and a lot of the locals made their living from fishing and the plastic tridents were no doubt a nod to the God of the Sea.
I have to admit to a touch of skepticism about these. I mean, I was constantly hearing about plastic being dumped in the oceans and causing untold damage. Neptune might not look too favorably on this gesture.
One day at the resort was more than enough for me. I don't do well around crowds and my idea of coming on this break was to get some rest and relaxation. Instead, I found myself being bombarded by chatter, laughter, so much noise that my anxiety levels were soaring rather than sinking.
The second day I decided to turn my back on the resort altogether. I grabbed a quick pina colada before setting off, then I went in search of a beach. So here's the thing: there were plenty of sandy ones, but again they had attracted the crowds. I needed somewhere a bit more rough-and-ready; the kind of place that no normal person would pick to lounge around on.
With no map I just picked a direction and began a slow but steady stroll. I was bound to find somewhere eventually. What I did find was the docks; the smell announcing its presence before I arrived there. Instead of the chatter of holiday-makers there was the chatter of fishermen as they set off or docked with their catch. The last thing I wanted to see was a fish, left dead after being removed from its natural environment so I hurried by and did not slow my pace again until I'd left the stench behind me.
The ground began to get a bit more rocky, and as I stepped among the sand dunes I could feel my leg muscles crying out. That could only mean one thing: I was climbing upwards. I plowed on and eventually was rewarded when I found myself standing on the edge of a cliff. Not another person was in sight, so I sat down and let my legs dangle over the edge.
Now I could appreciate the blue of the sea, with just the white wave tops breaking it up. As my eyes adjusted to the scope of the view I could make out several fishing boats in the distance. Ah, this was just what I had come in search of - peace and tranquillity.
I took a deep breath of the ozone and let my mind slowly focus on nothing.
Maybe I was beginning to doze off for suddenly I found myself jerking back into consciousness. I'd heard something that was not the cry of a gull or the splash of a wave. I listened as hard as I could but there was nothing out of place. Perhaps I'd just been having one of those dreams that jolts you into wakefulness. I guess I should think myself lucky for I could easily have found myself falling over the edge onto the rocks below.
"Help!" There it was again, faint but definitely real rather than imagined.
I stood myself up and began to scan the rocks below me and the sea further out. Was that a person? The wind caught what I had seen, lifted it from the ocean's surface. Not a person then. Suddenly I saw movement on the rocks right beneath me.
"Help! Somebody, please!"
"Okay," I shouted back. "I'm coming down!"
There was a rugged path that led from the clifftop down towards the rocks. Conscious of the fact that the person in distress had probably walked this same path, I went as fast as I could while still taking care. Every so often a rock would protrude upwards, just inviting me to trip and fall.
"Help me!" The voice was a bit louder. I was definitely heading in the right direction.
"I'm coming! Can you wave an arm or something?"
I looked through the jagged spikes of rock. There were deep frothy pools of water, that seemed to be getting deeper with each approaching wave. Finally I saw him, a lone man dressed in a diving suit. I wasn't really dressed for rock climbing, let alone for making a rescue, but there was no one else around. I'd made sure of that.
"Help me, ple..." His voice was suddenly cut off.
"Where are you? Wave!" I did not even have any rope, so how could I have ever imagined I could rescue someone. I'd have to climb right down there, stretch out my arm and hope that I could reach his hand.
Easing myself down to almost sea level I saw his hand. I lunged for it, made a grab once, twice, three times. And the third time I clutched his fingers. "Okay, now you're going to have to help me," I said, pulling as hard as I could and suddenly finding myself falling backwards. In my hand was an arm, nothing more, and it had been severed quite roughly from the body.
I looked at the pool in front of me. The froth was pink, the sea was red. There was no sign of the man but I could make out a shape beneath the surface. It was a shark, and I was in no doubt that it had killed the man.
I turned and tossed the arm aside, frantically trying to get a grip and start my climb, but my feet were slicked by the man's spilled blood. I grabbed for a handhold, but the rock crumbled beneath my fingers. There were more shapes beneath the water now, and the sea had risen up to my knees.
"Help!" I cried. "Help me!" But there was no one to hear my cries.