Sometimes... Poseidon gets pissed. (SCREAMS!!! Contest winner)
|Colin looked out the front window of his house and noticed the Pacific morning fog was being burned away by the sun. He figured behind him it was already visible through the mist.
“Know what, Hog? I think this is one of those days to be glad we live here!” Hog barked. “Oh right, like you figured that out. How’s this? Beach!” That brought lots of barking, wagging, and general mayhem from the 180lb. French mastiff. It took a few twists and turns, but they could be at the coast in twenty minutes from his six acre property. Even with a nice creek off the Coquille River of his own, Whiskey Run beach was his favorite. All the quad enthusiasts were north on the Oregon Dunes, the rock and agate crowd were on beaches south. Since most often it was deserted, Hog could run free. He’d been adopted at a young age, but even after five years, he still liked to run. The windows were open and the faint smell carried on the morning air was enticing to both.
Colin rubbed his scraggly reddish brown beard, which matched his hair color. He was about average in height and weight. At just over 30, he was still in good shape, too. He had a bad habit of talking to his dog, however.
“Okay, so what do we need? The big cooler is in the back, it still has ice, right?” The dog tilted his head. “See? You know.” He walked into the kitchen of his 1890’s two and a half story house. “Okay, got a fresh towel, I got my book, and your leash is in the truck … so’s my SPF Irish. “ He thought for a moment. “Ha! Silly, can’t go to Whiskey Run without it!”
He walked to his bar, pulled out a flask and whiskey, Jameson’s, and filled. Colin could pick up beer and snacks on the way, but the liquor store was closed. He put on board shorts, sandals, and a tee shirt, all covered with a light jacket. Once he had Hog secured in back, he got supplies, and parked in the almost empty lot. The key was finding a rock on the beach that was just large enough to block the wind, but was positioned to still give you sun. It took just a minute, but in that time he saw only two other people far down the beach, so he let the dog loose. He knew Hog would rather bark at the surf than get in it, and even breaking at only a foot or so, he was glad his buddy would stay out of it. He breathed in the last of the mist as he dug an easy chair in the sand. Once the beach towel was in place, he set his book and libations nearby, and lay back in the warming sun. And promptly fell asleep.
It didn’t seem like a long nap, but he woke to a gentle tugging on his towel. Without even opening his eyes, he said.
“Stop it, Hog.”
As he became fully awake, he heard two very distinct sounds. One, his dog barking in the distance, and two, a high pitched voice screaming, which could mean only one thing. His eyes snapped open as he sat up, and saw that indeed his dog was not tugging his towel. In fact, he howled in pain as a one, then two, crabs began pinching his legs.
“Damn it!” He yelled while scrambling two feet up the rock next to him. He noted the crabs, approaching in a about a four foot wide line from the water, began climbing atop one another to reach him. Yet, he managed to survey the beach. His heart wrenched as he saw Hog surrounded; then he felt it break completely as he saw a young boy on a rock closer to the ocean with a “stack” already half way upon him. He knew he could only save one, and made a split second decision that would always haunt him. Human life, especially a child, meant more to him. He jumped; glad he had mostly open sand to cover, and measured. Having run the 800 meter in high school, he judged it about 300 meters to the rock, then another 500 back to the truck. It was the best he could do, and he set his pace. He only hoped the boy would hear him and do as he asked.
“You have to jump!” Colin yelled. “When I say jump, jump over them to me! Got it?!”
“You have to jump! Do you hear me?!” He screamed over the waves. He thought he saw the boy nod.
“Now! Jump!” The boy leapt down to the sand and Colin caught him by the shirt, breaking most of his fall.
“Let’s go!” The sand was hard, but with the boy unhurt, it let them move faster.
As they curled back to head for the truck, both of them got a look at a long mound suspiciously shaped like a human form. Only it was covered in crabs. He turned his head to the right and saw his precious mastiff had met the same fate. He’d have to mourn later, they had ground to cover. It wasn't a record, but fright helped them move fast.
“Okay kid, it looks like they’re around my truck, too. I can kick enough away, open the driver’s side, and toss you in … good?” He was worn out, but pulled it off. He slammed the door and let out a long breath.
“Well, we made it, uh…”
“Right. Did you know that person?”
“My step-mom, but she was okay.” Colin could see tears welling up. “Your dog?” Brian asked.
“Hog. My best friend.” They both looked away and were quiet. They both had emotional pain that wouldn't soon go away.
A couple miles later, Colin stopped the truck. He noticed that there were still crabs hanging from it, and at least a dozen trapped in the bed. He wondered aloud how they got in there.
“They jump.” Brian said. “We studied crustaceans this year. “Visited the aquarium, too.”
When he got out and grabbed one off a windshield wiper, the rest came at him, the exact opposite of their normal behavior. But, as few as there were, he deftly tossed them in back. Within a few minutes, they were all in his cooler. He mumbled about them not being so tough without all their buddies.
“So, Brian, where do you live?”
“What are you going to do with those?” The boy changed the subject.
“Well…” Colin thought for a moment. “I figure I’ll boil them up and eat them. I owe my dog that.”
“Now. They’d be dead and worthless in an hour.”
“I know. I want to do it, too. I’m only ten, my dad won’t be home until five, and I don’t want to be alone.”
“Well… okay.” The young man made a good case, and the older one relented.
With the truck backed up to the garage, the two unloaded the cooler and passed through it into the fenced backyard. Colin fired up the boiler, got other ingredients and seasonings, and tossed in crab. He thought he heard them scream, he hoped it was real. Either way, it was delicious. The burn of the spices mixed ever so well with the sweet ocean brine taste of his enemy.
“They deserved it.” Brian said. They both nodded.
There wouldn’t be any dessert. Brian heard it first, but both of them headed towards the fence. They were both stunned to see a crab trying to work its way under the fence. Colin pointed and they both ran to a garden shed. Brian grabbed a shovel.
“Good. Keep them out if you can, then run. I have to look from up top!” He pointed to the roof.
What he saw was terrifying. Coming from various turns in the stream were rows of the sea creatures that were already surrounding the house. He yelled as he descended.
“C’mon Brian! Get inside!” They both entered the house and slid the glass door shut.
They sat, breathing hard, and attempted to gather themselves.
“How long… they live… out of saltwater.” Colin panted.
“How’d they get here?”
“Saltwater to Riverton, maybe?”
But even Colin knew they should be dying right now, as an hour had passed. “Why?”
“We eat their friends?” Brian responded. “We throw plastics in their world and nuke it from Japan? Kill whales and dolphins?”
“You’re ten?” Brian nodded. “…damn.”
"I don't know how, but they're going to find a way in here." Colin said. "I'm not sure how they found the house, or what's making them act like this, but something is driving them." He sounded worried. "We need to get out of here."
The boy followed him up the stairs to the second floor where an axe was stored in case of a fire. He led them into a storage area off the main bedroom, opposite where the truck was parked. Colin hoped all the noise he would make breaking a hole in the roof would draw the pod away from the vehicle. It worked to a certain extent, but it took precious minutes to get out, and they knew more were coming. They yelled as they emerged onto the roof and banged around enough to knock a gutter loose. Then, when Colin thought it might be enough, he grabbed Brian and scrabbled up the roof. They flatfooted down the other side, and then jumped from a lower roof to the garage; there the truck bed sat six feet below.
“Ready?” Colin asked. "On three."
“What if the sabotaged the truck?”
"What if I forgot the keys?”
They laughed nervously, “One… two…”