Estimated reading time — 6 minutes
”Angels, mommy, look!”
I glanced away from my sad excuse for a sand castle and back at my younger brother, who was standing at the edge of the beach in his bright yellow trunks and leaning forward as if trying to make out something in the distance.
”Look, mommy, look! There are angels in the sea!”
Our mom’s initial reaction was that of any exhausted parent: she glanced up from her book to ensure that Nathan hadn’t wandered too far off and said something along the lines of ”That’s nice dear, just stay where I can see you.” before returning to her reading. I was about to go back to working on the moat around my pitiful fortress when I noticed a pair of boys that were closer to my age staring off into the sea as well. One of them looked awestruck by whatever they were gawking at, while the other clung timidly to his friend’s side.
”Dad! Get the camera!” Exclaimed the bolder of the two, jogging over to the rotund man sunbathing nearby and shaking him awake. His anxious friend was left behind to just stand there with arms wrapped around his bare chest. I still remember the expression of distress and confusion plastered on that kid’s face. He had the face of someone who had witnessed something so anomalous that they weren’t yet sure how to react to it.
Needless to say, my curiosity was piqued. I clambered to my feet and walked across the scolding sand over to Nathan’s side. Noticing my approach, my little brother hopped with excitement and stuck his little finger out towards the blue expanse stretching endlessly before us. I shielding my eyes from the glare of the midday sun and squinted.
There, sauntering across the still horizon as though it was solid earth, were excessively tall and blindly white humanoid figures. I instinctively stepped in front of Nathan and strained my vision. Their long, coiled limbs reminded me of shriveled branches that sprouted from similarly lanky torsos. The light reflecting off the pale beings was so intense that I was forced to intermittently look away.
”What in God’s name…” murmured a masculine voice behind me, followed by a cacophony of accompanying gasps.
We watched the entities drift atop the water with no perceivable direction. It almost resembled a poorly choreographed performance; as if they were giant puppets being manipulated by an incompetent puppeteer. The longer I stared, the more I grew accustomed to their radiance, allowing me to look upon them clearly. Their towering frame was comprised of sinewy, root-like growths that twisted and spun into vaguely helical shapes, while their head was featureless and smooth- barely kept upright by a withered neck. They were like walking trees with an oversized tumor instead of a crown. Imagine isolating a concept so surreal that it can only exist in the recesses of someone’s disturbed mind and then superimposing it upon reality. That is the most accurate way I can think of to describe how it felt to endure the presence of those things.
The tallest among the entities suddenly ceased its lurching and stood still. Anticipation and dread hung heavy in the air. I felt as if my lungs were being compressed inside my rib cage. My undeveloped psyche struggled to comprehend the underlying significance of what I was witnessing. As the alien anomaly hunched over, its disproportionately lengthy arms brushed against the surface of the sea.
”Watch! Its about to do it again!” Nathan exclaimed with a gleeful smile, one half of his freckled face bathed in white light.
Two sets of colossal appendages erupted from the humanoid’s back. The emergent wings somewhat resembled those of an insect, complete with an expansive system of veins which fused and branched out into hideous patterns. Once fully protracted, the thin membrane connecting them was so transparent that only its outline remained visible.
A dream – It had to have been a dream. Any moment now my alarm clock was going to go off. Nathan would’ve already been standing at my bedside, excited for our upcoming day at the beach. Mom’s voice would’ve called us downstairs for breakfast. She had made fluffy pancakes with syrup – our favorite. After having rubbed the sleep from my eyes, however, I would’ve noticed the tall, pale and naked figure slouched in the corner behind my brother. It slowly turned its featureless face towards me and raised a finger up to its non-existent mouth…
A sudden kick to the side of my knee pulled me out of my trance. I crumbled instantly, pain shooting throughout my left leg. My first impulse was to try and hobble away, but I was immediately tackled down. I squirmed beneath the weight of someone straddling my back, all the while breathlessly shrieking for them to get off. The unknown assailant grabbed fistfuls of my hair and started savagely slamming my head against the ground. Grains of coarse sand were embedded into my face; blood gushed from my possibly broken nose. I cried in agony each time I was yanked back by the roots of my copper curls. Through the torrent of panic and desperation, I had somehow managed to free one of my arms, which helped brace myself against the impacts.
“Let go! Please let go of him! Let go of my brother right now!” Nathan pleaded in the background.
Hearing the quiver in his voice is what gave me the courage to reach back and jab my thumb into the eye of whomever was so hellbent on cracking my skull open. There was a wet pop, followed by a bellow. I finally managed to crawl out from underneath them and onto my hands and knees. Looking over my shoulder, I saw none other than the timid boy from before writhing on the ground behind me. He was clutching the right side of his face as crimson fluid streamed down his cheek. Nathan knelt in front of me, his big brown eyes filled with tears.
”Where’s mom?” was the first thing I asked.
His lips trembled.
She was technically right where we had left her: occupying her favorite lounge chair with her book laid open in her lap. It could’ve been an assuring sight if it wasn’t for the umbrella pole protruding from her chest. The metal rod had been driven through her with such tremendous force that its tapered, bloody point was poking out the other end – straight through the colorful canvas, effectively impaling her. Her head lolled at an angle, her face hauntingly and utterly vacant. The woman who had been our sole caretaker throughout our short lives was gone, leaving us stranded in the middle of a world that no longer made sense – a pocket universe where only madness reigned, its rule enforced by those deceptively ethereal monsters looming like sacred pillars over a deathly quiet sea.
We saw husbands reduce their own wives to gory pulps; young couples claw at each other like frenzied animals; children scoop up and play with the entrails of their disemboweled parents, who were still alive and… laughing.
They were laughing.
They were all laughing.
Laughing and laughing and laughing and crying and laughing some more…
So we laughed too. We got swept up in the whirlwind of insanity. Laughter simmered in the back of our throats like bile until we couldn’t hold it down anymore. God knows I tried, but I couldn’t. There were spectacles of glorious violence transpiring all around us, dyeing the sand beneath our feet red. Nathan found it particularly funny how that one guy’s head exploded like a watermelon after it got bashed with an oar. He found it so hilarious, in fact, that I felt inspired to recreate it. I directed my attention to a hefty looking rock nearby. With some help I managed to pick up and carry the heavy object over to the poor boy whose eye I had just gouged out. He still lay there; a painful grin etched across an otherwise docile expression. His raspy cackles were becoming increasingly strained. Even as I stood directly above him with a rock hoisted over my head, he remained unconcerned by my presence; his single dilated pupil directed upwards at the silver aurora that tore through the sky.
Before I was given the chance to prove my commitment to the new world and its rightful overseers, a powerful gust of wind threw me off balance. I was forced to relinquish the stone some distance away from my intended sacrifice, watching him get swallowed by the advancing tide instead. It was like the sea had suddenly resumed its course. Warm blood flowing freely down my lips and chin, I spread my arms in reverence of our gracious gods. I wanted to bask in their brilliance one final time; overjoyed as I awaited for my vessel to be purified by the scorching light of their impending approach…
”Jake! You know your brother can’t swim! Bring him back here right now or we’re leaving.”
Nathan groaned and pouted, but even he knew better than to press mom when she had that look on. He let go of my wrist and made a point of stomping his way back to shore. I inhaled through unimpaired nostrils, closed my eyes and listened to the seagulls. Waves brushed against the tips of my fingers.
”I’m not lying! I swear I saw them! I just wanted to have a closer look!” I heard my little brother shouting in protest, followed by the sounds of him getting dragged away by his ear.
Well, I certainly believed him.
Credit : Morning Owl
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