There was one piece of advice shared among the people who lived on the coast. Come back before dark. After dark, the chances of returning home alive and in sound mind were next to none.
After three people in one month returned, babbling about the monster at sea. The monster who tried to eat them. The monster with rows of teeth as sharp as the sharpest blade and fins of a shark that sliced through the water. After that, it wasn’t just advice. It was the law. If you weren’t back before the dark, you weren’t allowed back in the village.
The village didn’t want to draw the monster to them. Didn’t want to attract it’s attention. A creature of the one described could only mean one thing, Hell had officially come to Earth. Sunset Point refused to purposely attract the demon of the sea.
Walter thought it was all a load of bullshit.
There was no demon of the sea. The other fisherman had likely seen a shark in the dark waters and convinced themselves otherwise. As the rest of the village walked up the mountain to pray to their Gods every evening, Walter splashed into the sea.
He’d stare at the horizon, feel the water push and pull at him. His boat was small, he never went far from the shore. He couldn’t risk anything happening to him. Not while he had responsibilities at home.
But the horizon would stare back at him. Beckoning him out. Calling his name. Every evening, he’d stand and listen to it’s siren song, then force himself to turn away. Force himself to walk back up the sandy shore, follow the dirt path to the outside of town, climb the hill, and greet his little sister.
His darling little sister who worked hard in her small garden, raised her chickens, fed the horse, and made sure the house was clean. His darling little sister who had a bowl of water staying warm by the fire so he could wash his face and hands before the dinner that his little sister prepared for them.
Tonight, the call was louder than ever. A whisper had swept through town. Another boat gone. Another fisherman who stayed out too late. Who showed up, of sound mind, but the townspeople didn’t forgive. The devil was in those waters and they wouldn’t allow him to return to his family. His family who relied on his fishing to feed the many small mouths his wife had birthed.
The family was packing up now. They were leaving Sunset Point. Walter was still here. Harriet, his sister, was still here. The town was still here.
Harriet was waiting for him as he returned. She smiled as he washed his face and talked about how her tomatoes were looking really good and Miss Martha was going to teach her how to can them so they’d last throughout the winter.
“Harriet,” he interrupted her rambling. “Thank you for the soup. Do you need anything for tomorrow?”
She swirled her spoon around. A small fire crackled in their fireplace. The wind howled, pushing a chill into the house, even though it was much too early in the year to worry about the cold. “Maybe just a couple coins. Some of the kids are going to…” Her voice trailed off.
It didn’t matter what the kids were going to do. “Of course, remind me when we’re done eating and I’ll get some out for you.”
Money. He usually caught enough fish that Harriet could clean and cook one for dinner and he could take the rest of his catch into the closest town to sell. Recently he hadn’t been lucky enough for that. Their coins were quickly running out.
Harriet finished her soup. Walter pulled her bowl towards him before she could take it to clean it. “Why don’t I clean up tonight? Do you still have paper? Your charcoal?”
Harriet’s smile filled him with warmth. “Thanks, Wally!” she disappeared out the door. He knew if he were to step outside, he’d find her laying near the cliffside, sketching the town lit up below.
Walter stared out the little kitchen window. The moon was full and reflected on the constantly moving ocean. Way in the distance, something splashed.
Walter had more important stuff to worry about. He did. His sister needed money, new clothes, new shoes. He was all she had, and she was all he had. He had more important stuff to worry about, but...
There was no demon in the water.
And he was going to prove it.
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