Hanson flees from a dark threat.
|The Black Sands
There was someone in the house. Hanson was certain of it. He could sense a presence moving about downstairs, waves of malignant intent issuing from whatever dark creature had been sent to terrorise him this time. It was no use the doctor telling him that it was his imagination, that these things were but inventions of his paranoia. His entire being screamed at him that he was not alone in the house this night.
The telltale creak from the third stair confirmed his fears. Some vile denizen from hell was creeping up toward him. He must get out! Out into the open where he was not trapped, out where he could run until his lungs burst. Hanson silently slid from the bed and tiptoed to the window.
To his relief, it opened easily and without noise. Memories of his childhood escapades returned as he bent to emerge from the opening and his feet felt the slates of the porch roof. From there it was a nervous but easy trip to the branch of the old oak that hung over the roof. Familiarity allowed him to slip from branch to branch, easing downward until his feet felt ground below.
The night was dark but, as Hanson’s eyes grew accustomed to the gloom, he was able to make out the route he must take. He stepped out from the deep shade of the tree and walked quickly to the road that led down to the sea.
Behind him, a scream of rage and frustration tore the night air. His departure was discovered and he must run as never before. This time his life depended upon it.
It was easy going on the hard road surface, even in bare feet, and Hanson set off at a good pace. He had no idea how fast such creatures could travel but, judging by previous encounters, they were hampered by their need for stealth. With a bit of luck, he could find somewhere on the beach to hide long before his pursuer arrived.
He was rounding the corner that led the road along the cliffs before descending to the beach, when Hanson heard the rapid steps of the presence behind him. This one wasn’t afraid to make a bit of noise, it seemed, and he was a good deal faster than any before. Hanson must find a hiding place soon or be overtaken.
He remembered that just the day before he had at last discovered a way down the cliffs to the black sands below. There had been no time to attempt the task but, in the extremity of his present need, this immediately suggested itself as his only way out. He hurried to the spot where he must begin the climb downward and began the precarious descent.
The route soon became extremely difficult and he was slowed as precision and care in choosing hand and footholds became necessary. The sounds of pursuit had faded as soon as he went over the edge of the cliff but, with no idea of the creature’s climbing ability, Hanson knew that he must keep going, that his only hope of safety lay in those black sands. He must surely be able to find a way to hide in the base of the cliffs or even in some dark cavity in the sands themselves.
As the going became increasingly slow and dangerous, Hanson was encouraged by the absence of any sounds from his pursuer. Looking upward, he could discern no black shape blocking out the stars as it followed him over the cliff edge. It looked possible that the thing had no head for heights or lacked any ability to climb. Hanson kept going with renewed hope.
The sands were closer now and the going became easier among the rocks and boulders that had fallen from the cliff. It would be easy to find some crevice in this jumble, some place that would protect him until morning brought the daylight. But he should move away from the place of his descent. If the creature managed to find a way down, he would start his search here.
Hanson felt his foot land on the cold, shifting surface of the sands. Their blackness meant that it was hard to judge distance in the gloom, the sands merging with the shadows of the night, this deep shade offering some hope of a hiding place impenetrable even to eyes accustomed to darkness. The touch of sand beneath his feet was so familiar that it, too, soothed his fears a little and allowed him to consider his next move.
It would be foolish to head towards the beach he knew so well at the end of the cliffs. His pursuer might try heading down there and trying to find a way back to the black sands above the crashing seas. There was no way that Hanson had ever found but who knew the swimming ability of such a creature? No, the best way would be to put as much distance as he could between him and the beach. He began to trudge through the sand in the chosen direction.
Walking was hard work, the sand being much softer and clinging than it had looked from above. It was damp too, reminding Hanson that he should find a hiding place well above the high tide mark. He was confident that he could do this, having noted that only the fiercest storms threw waves all the way up to the base of the cliffs. He tramped on into the night.
His body beginning to weary at the constant struggle, Hanson stopped when well away from the point of his descent and took stock of his situation. The scene, as far as he could see in the night, was much the same all the way along this dark beach. The sea still hissed and sucked at the sand along its length and the cliff collected very similar boulders at its foot however far one travelled. This would be as good a place as any to find a suitable hidey hole.
He tried to move closer to the rocks but found that something was holding his foot. In standing in one spot for a while, Hanson’s feet had sunk into the sand and it was now quite difficult to extract them from the sucking morass. He pulled harder and was shocked to find that he was still sinking. The sand piled into the hole his feet were creating, pouring into this cavity that interrupted their ancient, flat surface.
With horror, Hanson realised that the sands must be quicksand. He ceased his struggles as he remembered that movement was only supposed to dig you deeper. It did not seem to matter. He continued to sink slowly into the sand, which was up to his knees now and showing no sign of letting up on their relentless sucking at his legs. The thought that he might be able to swim across the surface occurred to him and he relaxed and allowed himself to topple forward. He began to move his arms and legs, trying desperately to gain forward traction in the seething sand.
It made no difference. Not only did he stay in the same spot, his movements increased the rate of his sinking beneath the dark waves of sands that devoured him. All thought of his pursuer had gone but, at the last moment before Hanson’s head was drawn beneath the sands, he heard the mocking laughter of his nemesis from the cliff above.
Word count: 1,253
For SCREAMS!!! March 08 2021
Prompt: Black sand.