Introduction to a murder mystery/horror story.
In the pre-dawn chill, the half-moon sent thin fingers of white light glimmering across the water to fall gently on the beach, reaching far enough to caress the base of the cliffs that stood sentry just two-hundred metres inland.
The night had been cold and short, just like most nights. He never slept for long periods of time, his conditions not allowing for such restful repose. But tonight he had found no reason to sleep at all. There was too much to do.
The creature emerged from the trail that led down to the beach, his kill slung freshly over his good shoulder. He walked, ape-like, along the foot of the rocks, pausing to adjust his burden every so often, or to look around himself to ensure he was not being followed. His nerves were tingling with … what? Fear? Excitement? He could not tell. In reality it was most likely a mixture of both, with a hint of vague satisfaction and relief, as if he had just rid himself of the first backbreaking task on his daily to-do list.
The third time he stopped, he found it. It was such a small opening that most would never have noticed it. Indeed, not many had.
The entrance to the cave was partially hidden by a jutting of rock, which curved out from the main body of the cliff like a curled finger, and the hole was so small that one might only enter by a careful crawl. He would surely not be able to enter here with his quarry slung over his shoulder.
He set the body down on the sand just outside the cave, and lowered himself onto his belly so as to slip through the opening.
Once he had done so, he was elated to find that there was plenty of room to manoeuvre while inside. He was able to rise to a crouch, turn around, and reach back out. Pulling the carcass through was not as easy as he might have hoped, as he only had the use of one arm.
This was a defect that had been with him since birth, like a cruel toothless grandmother who exists as long as memory allows, and refuses to die. The arm was more of a club – thick and strong but with no utensils at the end. Where his hand should have been was a gnarled bulbous ending, with five small bumps that might have been fingers, if only they had been allowed to grow. This arm fell close to the ground due to the lopsidedness of his frame, so the five bumps had been sprinkled with sand even before he had crawled into the cave.
With great difficulty he pulled his kill through, and then began to drag it along the ground, deeper and deeper into the rocks, crouching at half his height all the way. How far does this cave go? He thought. But soon enough he had his answer. His clubbed hand, outstretched, knocked the far wall within a minute of walking. Figuring the distance to be far enough, and the hiding place to be sufficient, he let the young boy lay where he was, and turned to leave.
With one last look over his shoulder, he said a silent apology to the small limp form that lay facedown in the darkness, for he had not the strength to bury him.
After he emerged from the cave, he stood with his bad arm leaning against the rocks. His breath was heavy with exertion, but also with a strange mixture of shame and pride - the kind of heavy breathing that serves as a prelude to tears.
In the light of the low moon, his black silhouette was framed against the cliffs. He was a large man, each limb thick and solid. His chest was pronounced, like something inside desired to burst forth from beneath his ribs, and this gave him the appearance of constantly leaning forward. His left shoulder, which ended in his useless arm, was slanted down steeply, making his whole upper body tilt at a forty-five degree angle.
Above the grotesque frame, a bulbous head rested stiffly atop an almost non-existent neck, containing two enormous eyes that shone green in the moonlight, like the stories you hear about sharks approaching in dark waters.
A few strands of thin grey hair fluttered in the gentle wind as he began to walk apishly back to the trail that would lead him spiralling up the cliff, and back into town.
He had to be home before the dawn.