The Halloween Project 2020 - Story 9: If You Dream It, it May Come
And the final beach story. Just a good old monster story. Beaches have monsters, most certainly. Hurricanes and rip tides, the undertow, never mind the animals.
"I saw a bear, I swear to God," Wayne was explaining to his roommates. "I was just looking out watching some guys kiteboarding and I saw it out of the corner of my eye. It was only about 30 yards off. It came down to the water, pawed at it a little bit then turned and looked right at me. Really."
Jennifer reacted first after shooting a quick glance at Brodie who was leaning against the kitchen counter.
"Wayne, were you stoned? Really?" she added for emphasis.
Wayne raised his hands in an "I surrender" gesture and gave the slightest, discreet nod.
"Well, there you go," Brodie suggested, "Bear mystery solved. And anyway...how many days in a row have you been to the beach now?"
"173", Wayne offered.
"173... maybe it's time to take a break from the beach," Brodie offered.
"Or find yourself a new weed contact. You must be smoking some very weird shit," Jennifer added.
"No, guys. It's the same stuff I always smoke and I don't smoke every day. And I love the beach. What's the harm in that? I ride my bike there and everything's good."
"Wayne! Liar, liar, pants on fire. About the weed, I mean," Jennifer ridiculed.
In fact, Wayne had two addictions: weed and the beach. His life mostly sucked. He worked the midnight to 8 A.M. shift at Home Depot, stacking shelves with a thousand different items that came in every night in huge tractor trailer trucks. He slept from 9 until 3 or 4 in the afternoon, rolled a couple of joints and made his way to the beach. Sometimes he'd walk, sometimes sit. Sometimes he'd bring a flask with tequila. He always paid his rent, he always helped clean up the shared apartment, he always smoked and he always hit the beach.
The next afternoon Wayne was watching when a shadow passed overhead. A large shadow. He had just finished his second joint and a good chug of brandy for a change of pace from tequila. He shaded his eyes and a hawk, sailing the thermals hovered above and then dropped 20 feet from where Wayne sat.
The hawk was at least five feet tall from talons to crown. A slow movement of outstretched wings covered 10 feet. It rotated its head every so slowly until it rested on Wayne. He quickly looked right and left, but no one else was on the beach to verify what he was seeing. 174 days of steady beachcombing had brought him to mid-October.
"I swear on my mother's grave! It was as tall as I am. Huge wingspan, fill this entire kitchen!" Wayne blurted.
"Dude, you are hallucinating. Stop smokin' that crap," Wayne explained, then added, "and your mother's not dead."
"It's an expression," Wayne replied glumly.
On an overcast day, Wayne's 178th straight at the beach, he settled into the sand. Despite the cool chill he was lying back having finished his standard two joints and an entire pint of tequila. Tonight would be a night off from Home Depot so he thought, "Why the hell not?"
He sensed more than heard a scrabbling at the ocean's edge where the incoming tide was eating up sand. Something was crawling from the water. Only a dozen feet from where he lay it emerged in a disjointed gate.
It was a lobster, of course, but unlike any he had ever seen. It was jet black with garish splotches of red across its shape. It had legs but way too many, perhaps 15 or 17, unevenly divided on its sides, each at least two feet long. It's pincer claw was the size of a big man's hand, the crusher claw opposite, an outfielder's glove. The back of the creature was as wide as a garbage can lid and twice as long. Stopping abruptly, it raised itself high on a half dozen claws and peered at Wayne. It watched, evaluating, then moved slightly closer. Now eight feet away, now five.
Wayne didn't know if he breathed or not. They stared at each other.
Then Wayne ran. He flashed to his bike and pedaled away toward the apartment. He made his way to his room without speaking to Brodie or Jennifer except for a simple hello. They looked at each other quizzically.
Wayne stayed away from the beach for a week. He rode his bike throughout town. He recounted the visions in his head. He started meditating, drinking a lot of water. He touched neither weed nor alcohol.
"What's up, dude?" Brodie asked one day.
"Just trying to get my head straight, Bro, like you guys suggested. Brodie just nodded.
When he finally returned to the beach it was another chilly but clear day. The wind blew on shored, waves growing. No one was about. No children searching for sea glass, no seniors waiting for sunset, no fishermen. Wayne walked out on an extended stone jetty made of boulders and huge stones. Waves, crashing harder, almost reached his sneakers. He stood for a long while and looked out over the grey, undulating expanse of water. Then a noise, and another, caught his ear. A scraping, along with a deep-throated chuff.
He turned and there on the jetty, cutting off his access to the beach was something. The only word that fashioned in his head was monster.
It was the many-legged lobster, legs and claws tip-tapping on the stones. But now it had fur and the muzzle and teeth of a bear protruding from just underneath it's stalked eyes and head. The lobster stood erect on several legs, that now appeared to have talons. The bear face huffed and grunted. And then it unfolded and spread a gigantic expanse of wings, part dense feather, part scales.
Wayne dropped to his knees and began to shriek.
"He didn't come home last night," Rebecca worried.
"I know, what should we do?" Brodie asked.
"Let's call the police. He always comes home, and he's been so good lately."
The police came upon Wayne at the beach. Or at least most of him.