#3 – Seashell Trail

Oct 3, 2019

Day 3 – Topic: Shallow Seas

Before I moved into the city, I used to live on a beach. I bought the house two years ago and couldn’t praise it enough. I loved the sea smell filling the air all day long, I loved watching the sun setting behind the horizon every day and absolutely adored hearing the sea when I was falling asleep. It seemed like I will never move again and stay living in this paradise on Earth, but one day everything changed. 

I used to be too busy to enjoy the sea properly and normally watched it only from my porch, but last year, I had to have a surgery because of which I spent way more time at home than before. After a few weeks, I was once again strong to keep myself on foot for longer periods of time and I decided to finally take the proper advantage of living next to a sea. I started making regular walks along the shoreline, enjoying the view and I took on a new hobby of collecting beautiful sea shells. At first I didn’t schedule my walks strictly and walked whenever I felt like it, but as my obsession with shells grew, I figured that the best time of day was during the low tide.

I carefully abided the schedule and collected more shells than ever before. However, I started to be really snobbish about what I considered a worthy shell. I bought books and searched the Internet so I would know what kinds of things I should look for. I quickly learned which part of the coastline is worthy of my time and tried to find new and new locations to fuel my new found passion. 

One day I arrived to a place that struck me as interesting from the moment I laid eyes on it. I felt a strange energy standing there and when I investigated the beach that was under water just a few hours ago, I found the most exquisite of species in the sand. I returned to this place three more times until I noticed something that looked like a trail of shells leading along the coast line that was submerged during most of the day. The place was deserted and from my recent visits, I gathered that I was the only person who was coming here.

I followed the trail, occasionally trying to pick up a shell from it I liked, but they were like glued to the earth. I couldn’t lift them with all my might and the ground beneath them was too solid to dig them out. I was slightly disheartened by the fact, because the trail was made of one of the most beautiful shells I have ever seen. I couldn’t have left them there, useless in the ground, so I decided to return here with special equipment. For now, I followed the path which led me to a cave I have never seen before. 

Because the time of low tide was coming to an end, I just quickly glanced into it, but it was too dark to see anything. I added a flashlight to my mental list of supplies for the next day and followed the trail backwards to get out. Before I returned home, I stayed for a while longer to confirm my suspicion about the height of the ocean after low tide. I was correct. The whole area together with the cave disappeared under water and that meant that whatever exploring I was about to do tomorrow, I would have to be quick about it. That’s why the next day I went from home earlier than the low tide, so I would have the most amount of time for my mission.

When I arrived, the sea already started receding, so I took out my knife. The path was still wet and there was kelp at places. I knelt down at the beginning of the shell path and started to pluck up the shells. It wasn’t as easy as I imagined it. It was like the shell defended itself from being picked up. I chose a different angle and employed more force. Accidentally, instead of plucking the shell out, I broke it. I cursed under my breath and moved to a different one. I tried to be a bit gentler this time, but it once again shattered and when it did, I heard a strange rumble coming from the direction of the cave. I didn’t think nothing of it and chose a shell for my final attempt. 

This time I picked up a shell that looked looser than others. I tried to distribute the force carefully and finally, it came out free and without any damage. Before I could admire the beauty, wind changed direction and became much stronger. Clouds appeared out of nowhere, almost as if the wind blew them in. There was another this time high-pitched sound coming from a cave after which the chill ran down my spine. I praise myself on being a rational person, but deep down I felt like I should run. As the wind got even stronger and a distant thunder sounded through the air, I decided to follow my instincts and return home, before the weather worsens even more. I put the shell into my pocket, sheathed the knife and quickly paced towards my house.

On my way back, it started raining and before I got safely inside, I was already drenched in water. I closed the door behind me and took of everything I had on me in the entrance hall. I put it on a coat hanger to dry for a while and headed to the shower, because thanks to the water, I was also coated with sand. Behind the walls, all hell broke loose and lighting was striking around the house every few seconds. As I went into the shower, the power went down. I decided to continue showering, because I couldn’t do anything about the electricity anyway. The water was colder than usual, probably because of the weather or the power. I braced myself, and quickly showered.

I put on clothes I prepared and suddenly realized something was banging on my door. I almost didn’t notice it because of the weather, but someone was out there. Probably a person getting caught with the sudden change of weather pleading for a shelter. I walked toward the door and the banging on the door was louder and louder. However, when I arrived and opened the door, no one was on the other side. I assumed it was the wind playing tricks on me and closed the door again.

I walked barely 10 steps from the door and it suddenly blew open. I thought the wind did it, but I also heard that weird noise from the beach again. Instinctively I ducked behind the sofa and carefully looked towards the door. I couldn’t see much because of the lack of light, but whenever a lightning struck outside, I could make out three silhouettes of hooded figures, creepily walking into my house. They kept on making the high-pitched noise, sometimes switched for something like a throat singing. My heart was beating loud and clear and I was terrified it would give away my position. The figures meanwhile tossed some stuff around, apparently looking for something. Anytime they gazed into my general direction, I thought I am done for. I had no idea what they wanted from me, but I knew it wasn’t anything good.

They walked around the hall, toppling stuff over as they went, when suddenly they noticed my drenched hanging things. They picked it up, tore it apart and when the shell I picked up hit the floor, they made that high pitched sound again. They picked up the shell, kicked over a few of the remaining things and headed out from the house. They stopped outside, looked back again towards the house and suddenly a lighting struck the roof and a fire started. The hooded figures disappeared and the weather calmed itself down soon after.

Nobody believed my story. The firefighters told me I was lucky, because the lighting could make much worse damage than it did. I didn’t care though. I knew I have to move as far from the sea as possible. I sold the house to the first bidder for a low price, left most of my possessions there, mainly all the seashells, and moved to a city centre. To this day, I can’t go back to the sea without my fear overwhelming me. I have no idea what happened, or who those people were, but I knew there was something… otherworldly… mystical to them. Something terrifying. Don’t pick up seashells. They don’t belong to you.