“I’ve thought of something,” CJ said, “and now I’ve thought of it I can’t stop thinking of it.”
“What is it?” I asked.
“The wide sand bars here – they make the water warm up. Sharks like warm water.”
And so it was that CJ and I dressed in our fragile swimmers and walked hand in hand down the dark street to the black sea. It was a Wednesday night – a school night, here in Merimbula – and it was perfectly quiet. Hushed, you might say. Ominous.
We reached the sea and walked carefully across the springy grass – barefoot. This was the same night we drank a bottle of Moscato (mostly me, to be honest) and my imagination was on high alert. Also, since it was 11pm at night, my contact lenses were starting to pack it in and my vision was blurry.
Out of the quiet, we heard the lap, lap, lapping of tiny waves. The tide was high, almost hitting the base of the concrete steps. To the right was a long pier, deserted except for a single rescue boat (empty). A single light pole stood beside it, surrounded by a glittering halo of bugs endlessly circling.
All around, the hills of Merimbula rose up, sprinkled with lights.
In front, there was nothing but darkness. We clutched hands and ventured out onto a thin stretch of wet and compacted sand. Farther away from the rescue boat, we saw men shining torches into the shallow water, thrusting nets out ahead of them.
Something was alive in the water.
We half-stumbled forward, not sure where to find the water – feeling our way with our feet. I hit the water first, and a sudden slope underfoot where the shore was rapidly eroding. We walked out, moving smoothly – silent ourselves in the quiet scuffle of the waves. Standing still, I felt the sand trickling away under my bare feet.
The water was a pool of darkness, and cold. We didn’t drop hands. The sky was shrouded in clouds, cutting off the light of the stars.
“What was that?” said CJ. He wasn’t joking.
I screamed hysterically and ran for the shore.
We walked home in a reflective silence. But the important thing was that we lived.
PS I just found out that Rowena Cory Daniells plans to write another “King Rolen’s Kin” book after she finished the Outcast Chronicles. Yay!!!