by Ken Muise
Walking along the break water, fighting the wind that tried to force her ocean-side, she counted her steps to the ladder as she had always done. When she was a girl, when she had started the counting, she could recall reaching the ladder somewhere between two hundred and fifty steps. Now, as her body had grown wearier and her steps choppier she often didn’t reach the ladder until after three-hundred steps.
The Atlantic exploded against the large granite stones, throwing icy water shrapnel against her. She tasted the salt from the cold water on her lips. It traced its way down her shirt.
When Steve died last year during a tuna trip she had stopped coming here, unable to bear the thought of walking this expanse without him. She always appreciated the way he would come with her on this walk. The ocean was a mundane part of his everyday life but to her it was a wondrous adventure.
Having had no children her decision was acceptable. Being a young widow it was understandable. Having lived two excruciating years without the only thing she had ever loved made it inevitable.
She would curse the ocean as it happened. Curse it for the suffering it had caused her husband and for the misery it had left her in.
She made it to the ladder on step two hundred and fifteen. She was in a hurry to die.
She climbed down, cove side, onto a piece of beach the tide was quickly consuming. Flakes of rust encrusted themselves into her palms and fingers.
It was calm. The ocean rippled like a pond and the pleasant sound of the wet sand crackling pleased her.
She entered the small cave where the dingy was stored hoping after all this time it was still there. She remembered the count. Six steps in and the dingy would be there in the diminishing light.
There was no dingy.
She walked further into the opening hoping that her age had altered her count as it usually would do on the breakwater. At ten steps in she knew she couldn’t that be far off but still no dingy.
There was a stirring from a few feet farther in.
She heard a thump to her left and slightly in front of her.
She backed up slowly.
Another thump into wet sand closer this time to her right.
In the faint light she saw a single webbed claw of grey-green scales with talons long and yellow. She heard a low throaty growl like a lion with a mouthful of water and a single yellow eye with no pupil opened suddenly reflecting the sunlight behind her.
The beast lunged and bit into her mid-rift, thrashing it’s head wildly, ripping her in two and throwing pieces of her out of the opening in its ferocity.
The beast dragged the large pieces back into the cave methodically.
The tide would wash away the blood.
Ken Muise has been an active-duty Soldier for 15 years. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Flashes in the Dark, The Nautilus Engine, Hypersonic Tales, Full of Crow and the Horror House. He blogs at www.elmuise.blogspot.com. When he isn't reading, writing or working he enjoys terrorizing his three daughters via Facebook.
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