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What a Lovely Day to go to the Beach
Cannibal Island. That’s what we called it. It’s this little island about a mile out from the coast where I live. They say there’s a crazy old man who lives on that speck of land. Supposedly he has traps planted all over the beach, buried in the sand. Once he’s got you in his traps, he snatches you up and eats you. That’s the story. We had a story in the paper about a girl going missing a few years ago. We all figured he ate her. But she was found washed up on the shore about a week later. Unfortunately she was dead. But her body blew our whole idea out of the water.
“I wish we could talk to him,” Said Angie, a couple of days ago, “y’know? Just to get to know him.”
“Yeah if you want to get eaten.” Joked Harry.
Although Harry was 16-years-old like me, he was taller than me. But not by much. His hair was a blend of black and brown, slicked back with a pound of styling gel. He may use a can of gel on his head, but it worked for him. Angie was a year younger than us. She had long blonde hair. Her bangs hung over her eyebrows and threatened to cover her eyes. She was gorgeous. Modest too. We were called the “Three Musketeers.” We had been neighbors since day-care days.
“Well I think it would be kinda cool to meet him. If he doesn’t trap you. Maybe he really isn’t a cannibal. Maybe he’s just trapping small animals for food.” I said.
“Well let’s ask him.” Harry said.
And that’s how it began. We would leave for the island in two days time. We got all of our gear ready. We brought flashlights, walkie talkies, band-aids, food, emergency flashes, etc. Everything was planned for our encounter with the cannibal. We set out a little after 10:00 at night. We didn’t want to wake any of our neighbors up, so we were extremely quiet. We got a boat from Harry that we could all fit into. It was snug, but it worked.
“Hey, watch where your hands out buster!” Angie snapped.
“What did I do,” asked Harry with a devilish grin, “I was just rowing that’s all.”
Harry had a thing for Angie. He was always “accidentally” getting close to her. Harry has tried million times to ask Angie out. She denied him. Every time. Yet he still courts her and flirts with her whenever he’s alone with her. This boat incident was one of his flirt maneuvers Poor guy, I felt bad for him. He tries hard to get close to her. She had a thing for him too, but she didn’t show it. Playing hard to get was Angie’s method of courtship. She would mention her interest to me though. Angie made me swear to not tell Harry she liked him. That was hard. I became a middle man for their relationship. Their secret love patterns were wearing on me. Unfortunately I was their friend and had too support them.
After the mini-fiasco -- and a couple swells that threatened to tip the boat -- we saw the island. I was tempted to shout “Land Ho!” but decided against it. I couldn’t see signs of the man or his home from the boat. Hopefully it would be easier when we were actually on the island.
The island was big. Really big. I figured a mile in circumference. But what do I know? I’m not a surveyor. As we tied the boat to a nearby palm tree, I saw a small canin buried in the trees. The cabin was in the dead center of the island. It was difficult to see though. There were palm trees all around the cabin. What was really weird about that was they were in a circle. The cabin seemed to repel the trees as they were about 10 feet from it. There were rows of trees too. Six rows of trees. Each in a circle around the cabin.
It would take at least 15 minutes to reach the cabin. I was in front. So I lead our team onto the beach. We tied down the boat and trudged up to the tree circle. The sand seemed so warm here, which was weird because it was such a chilly night.
As we headed toward the center of the island, I reveled in the warmth of the sand between my toes as I walked (our water shoes would slow us down, so we took them off). I was surprised how far ahead I was from the other two; I always felt like I was the strongest, the best of our little group, but I never expressed that to the others.
“Slow down Jake your moving too fast.” Called Angie.
“Yeah you’re truckin’ way too fast for us.” Harry complained.
“Well if you two would stop holding hands, you’d be up here by now.” I loved to harass their relationship.
I turned to look at them as they trudged up the beach. It seemed the sand was pulling them back, but sand has a way of doing that.
“Hey! I can’t move!” shouted Harry from behind
“Yeah me neither.” Replied Angie.
I sighed and doubled back to help them. They probably got stuck in a sinkhole or were making an excuse to stay alone longer. A part of me was hoping it was one of the man’s traps, and then it would prove our theories. When I got to them I noticed they were sinking, slowly, but definitely sinking.
“Jake help us!” They cried.
They were panicking, which wasn’t making the situation better. This was a heck of a sinkhole (or trap). I tried pulling them out, but it seemed to make them sink faster. It felt like I was having a tug-of-war with the sand. As I tried pulling them out I saw Harry zip right into the sand. I was terrified. I instinctively let go of Angie. Big mistake. She was pulled under just as fast.
“Angie, Harry no!” I screamed.
I was frantically clawing at the sand in the hopes I would find them. Suddenly I felt something tugging at my foot. I realized my foot was buried completely under the sand. I began clawing at my own trap as I tried to free myself. Just then, I looked up and saw the old man sprinting toward me with a shovel in his hands. He was screaming something I couldn’t hear. He was probably here to decapitate me with his shovel then carry my carcass off for his dinner.
At that moment I realized he was running to help me. It took me long enough. I guess it was saving the best for last. That little bit of humorous pride died really quickly when I discovered what had me. It was never the crazy old man who was eating people, it was the sand.
The old man sighed as the boy went under. He hoped he could save him. Just save one soul from the sand. This was becoming depressing. He shuddered for a moment at the thought of where they were digested and released from. Somewhere along the coast most likely. He tried to save that one girl many years ago, but once again he was too late. How the old man wished he could leave the island, but he knew it wouldn’t let him. It ate his boats. It ate his rafts. It ate everything. But not him. The sand liked his company even though he hated it. He turned back toward his shed where he would brood over this terrible loss. As he walked back he thought he heard a sound like a burp, but he decided he didn’t want to truly know what it was. Maybe someday, someone will get to him. Then he can leave this horrid place. He stomped the sand in a fruitless attempt to harm it.
It was getting really late now; he needed to get back to his shed quickly. It was the only safe haven. For night was almost at its peak. The trees were getting restless….and hungry.