Thank you to all our entrants! I really enjoyed reading each story. One had a unique narrator, one was super sweet, and one had a creepy twist. But there can only be one winner and that is...Barbara!! Congrats!
I walked beneath a sickle moon, placid waves lapping at my feet. The beach in autumn. It was silly to come. Autumn was the season of death and decay, ghouls and ghosts, not beach parties. But it was too far to walk home, and my ride was making out back at the bonfire. Everyone was. I couldn’t sit and watch.
A figure struggling from the water caught my eye. My heart quickened, and I glanced back at the bonfire. Would they hear me if I called out?
I turned and gasped. The figure stood before me. A girl. My age. She wore a thin nightgown, and seaweed dangled from her hair. But she wasn’t wet.
“Help me!” she cried. “We must save her!” She pointed at the island across the bay and offered her hand. "Hurry!"
“My friends. I should tell them—”
“Take my hand. Do not let go.”
She stared at me, eyes pleading, and I took her hand.
She led me into the ocean, neither cold nor warm, nor even wet, and we walked across the sea floor as if strolling on land.
“Why are there no fish?” I asked.
“They abide in the living sea. This is the sea of the dead.”
As if to prove it, bloated bodies began to appear. They swam past, their eyes pleading, too. I looked away, but even behind closed lids, I saw them stare. And then we rose from the sea and stepped onto a rocky shore.
The girl was dry as bone. I was dripping wet.
“There.” She pointed to a huddle of large boulders.
Another girl lay wedged between them, legs twisted, face bruised. I worked her out, the incoming tide helping in my task. I laid her in the sand, brushed back her hair, and gasped.
“Yes. I am free now. Thank you.” She began to fade away.
“Wait! Bring me back!”
“I cannot. I am no longer undead. I am spirit now.”
“Watch for the eddy,” she said, and vanished.
I stared across the bay at the flickering bonfire. It was too far. They would never hear me. I had to swim.
I removed my shoes and socks and dove into the water. Cold bit into my skin, took my breath and my strength, but I forced myself on.
The current suddenly changed, and the ocean pulled like a vacuum, sucking me back toward the island. Below me, the dead reached and groped. I thrashed and kicked, but my arms tired, my legs went weak. I sunk under the waves, struggled up again, and then I remembered nothing until I found myself struggling from the water.
Lyra raced toward me. “Dani, where’ve you been? We’ve be calling you for hours. Why would you go swimming alone at night and not tell anyone?” She looked at me strangely, brushed back my hair. “But, you’re not even wet.”
“Help me,” I said. “We have to save her. Take my hand and don’t let go.”
Once again, thank you to our participants! Everyone did a great job!!