THEY

The sea, sprinkled with the light of a billion stars, seduced the beach with wet kisses. Elsbeth held my hand with the stubborn determination of a girl who had at last got what she wanted, but was in no mood for her catch to get his. And so we sat and wriggled our toes in the sand. And so THEY came.
It started with a bubbling as though the waters boiled. But the night was cool and the sea did no such things? I looked to Elsbeth who just shrugged a reply. The surf soon settled and allayed my fears. I went back to my doe-eyed yearnings until rudely interrupted by a churning nightmare.
THEY rose from the roiling waters in heaving burst of white spumes and tentacled chaos. Like octopi seated upon human hosts the slathering creatures stomped from the waves; Elsbeth fainted, I froze. The creatures, for they were neither human nor sea beast, slapped their way out of the water, perhaps fifty, perhaps more, shook out their tentacled heads and looked around. Their oval eyes blinked in the star-shine a nictating membrane cleaning each eyeball like the rollers at a car wash.
I felt the sand beneath my toes vibrating, individual grains slipping over my skin, warmer than the night air, though abrasive. If this was shock, then I did not like it. If it was death, then it wasn’t so bad. My palms sweated in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible as THEY approached, dragging loose limbs rather than striding out with purpose. Their leader, a brute of close to ten feet headed my way. I couldn’t move, though I wished to. God, how I wished to!
A cloud blotted out the moon just then and all turned dark. THEY seemed not to care, if anything it allowed their weak eyes a certain freedom from their incessant blinking. Naked except for slime and periwinkles, the lead creature came to stand before me. I took Elsbeth’s unconscious form, held her close, and waited.
The figure eyed us, then what stars were still uncovered, and then the beach. Eventually, they settled on me, the squirming teenager at their feet. A beak-like mouth clacked open and I thought I was for it. I was not, as it tried to speak.
“Is…this…Hawaii?” he rattled.
“No, it’s Blackpool,” I spluttered.
“Begging…your…pardon,” he returned, and started to sludge his way back to the surf.
His fellow whatever-they-were shuffled off after him. Only when the tentacles off his head were left treading water did I react. I picked up a stone and lobbed it at him as hard as I could, collected Elsbeth in my arms, and then made a dash for it. That’s when a great crack hit the back of my skull and I almost fell over, the stone settling at my feet. THEY might have been crap navigators, but THEY were hell of a shot.

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