The rip tide had promised Stephen a watery grave, then backed out of the deal. He'd seen red, felt his lungs exploding, and said his atheist prayer of Good Riddance. After that, his life became a badly edited grind house film. One broken reel later, he was on the shore. A shell sat on his chest, just over his heart. He coughed up saltwater, sand, and part of a dead jellyfish. His mouth, throat, and nose felt like victims of a hot pepper holocaust.
Stephen picked up the shell and held it to his ear, indulging in a little "what the hell" he used to do as a kid, before beaches were prisons. Inside the shell he heard a second beach, a second ocean, and a woman's voice.
"I wish you could see me, Gerald," she said. "I got them. All thirty-six of the men and women who orchestrated this. They'll each be playing a lifelong game of Solitaire."
Frowning, Stephen sat up and switched the shell to his other ear. He heard the woman laughing and playing in the water with two younger voices. Girls.
"Their prisons are beaches like this," she continued. "But not like this. I have the house we built. I have the girls. I have you."
And I've got a lifetime supply of ultra violet, Stephen thought. Still, he was grateful for the white collar aspect of his prison, grateful that he woke up every morning without a sore ass or an involuntary tattoo, even if he had nobody to talk to. He wondered what he'd do with a wife, two little girls and a summer home. Probably work late.
"Hello?" he said into the shell, feeling like a moron. He was probably saying hello to schizophrenia, or some other delirium that resulted from excessive mental masturbation.
She didn't seem to hear him. "I'm going to build sandcastles with the girls. See you tomorrow, Gerald. Keep the lightning away."
Michael Greenhut is a graduate of Clarion South 2007. He lives in New York City with his wife, cat, and 2 month old son. He's looking forward to raising said child with a healthy dose of (original) Transformers and general 80s culture, except perhaps the hair.
He has sold fiction to Daily Science Fiction, Cosmos Online, and Fantasy Magazine, among others, and has been writing "freelance space opera" stories for the Dark Expanse video game universe. During the day, he works as a computer game developer, and hopes to one day contribute to game stories as well as regular fiction.
[ September 30, 2013, 07:54 AM: Message edited by: Scott R ]
Posts: 14554 | Registered: Dec 1999
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quote:I'd wanted to explore the classic imaginative trait of people "hearing the ocean" when they put seashells against their ears. What if they really were hearing some other ocean in some other dimension, and could even communicate using the shell?