Saltspray

A small, isolated seaside town is beset with an inexplicable, mounting strangeness. Matters only get worse as certain citizens start having menacing dreams of a terrible creature whispering to them from the depths of the black water...

He awoke suddenly, trembling down to his bones, from the ache of the cold, and from the banging noise triggering the alarm in his mind that he was under siege. Upon waking consciousness, he realized the sound was only someone rapping loudly at his front door. He eased shakily out of bed and into his waiting slippers, and pulled on a robe over his pyjamas to head downstairs.

It was Francie knocking, he knew. She would be bringing his groceries for the week, along with something homecooked, a meat pie or casserole or the like, to cheer up his icebox. He went down the staircase, and his hand running along the banister met something slick.

"Ack," he grumbled at the mess on his fingers. The slimy blue-green mold which had started cropping up around town a few months back was becoming a nuisance. He wiped his hand on the handkerchief kept in the pocket of his robe, already stained from previous encounters with the fungus.

He noticed the feminine form waiting on the other side of the beveled glass as she knocked once more, but when he opened the door, it was not Francie Shanks who stood at the stoop, but her daughter, Lila, whose reputation as the town's most notorious floozie had reached even his reclusive ears.

"Hi, Lloyd," she said in her low, mellow voice. "Mama isn't feeling well today, so she asked me to deliver these things to you. Want me to drop this off in the kitchen?" She lifted her arms laden with a crate filled with goods.

"I'll take them, Lila, thank you." He relieved her of the burden, careful not to brush his hands or arms against hers as much as he could help. He kept his eyes from her face, with its slight, knowing smirk it naturally shifted into when she was silent. "I hope your mother feels well soon." Lloyd was not much of one for idle conversation or simple social niceties, but he felt uncomfortably compelled to dispel the agitation of the woman's vicinity with a few words of small talk. He hoped she would leave soon, or he might find himself inviting her inside for coffee, a custom he had avoided with any soul for more months than he could recall.

"Oh, she will. I think she's just tired, mostly. But Lloyd, I haven't seen you in some while. How have you been lately?"

"Fine." He didn't need to consider his answer, and whether it was an honest one or a fabrication. He was always fine, just fine, to anyone who might ask.

Lila smiled as she dipped her head in a deep blink, as though his answer affected her. "I am glad to hear it. I wonder how you're getting on sometimes, in this big old house. If you ever need anything, you just let Mama or me know, do you hear?"

"I hear," he replied.

She smiled again, and moved as if soon to leave. "Well, 'bye now. I should see how Mama is doing. Do you need any help with those?" She gestured to the groceries still in his arms.

"No, I have it, thank you."

"All right. You take care!" Lila turned and began across the porch. She stopped in her stride, and faced him again before he could completely shut the door. "And Lloyd, if you ever get too lonely..." Her normally confident eyes darted to her shoes. Her gaze lifted to him again, slowly, "Well, you can talk to me." With a last, tentative smile, she left him standing in the crack of the doorway, wondering what was in her head.

The End

2 comments about this story Feed