Hallucination

Story by
Neha Dhunna
Artwork by
Cole Webber

A lone couple sits in the shadows of their umbrella; a picnic for two at an abandoned beach. “I still don’t think this is a good idea,” she says to him. But he doesn’t listen. Instead, he continues to eat without saying a single word.

The wind whips harshly at her face, and yet an eerie silence consumes the atmosphere.

She looks up at the sky; it seems as if it should rip open at any second and spill out an ocean of water. In spite of the knowledge that a storm would be soon headed their way, she chooses to stay quiet — aware that anything she says to him won’t get him to budge. Indeed, a stubborn man, who only does as he pleases. And now, he seems fixated (on something far off).

Just the thought of marrying such a man fills her with regret and overwhelming grief. It bubbles inside of her like thick water, like molten rocks. She sighs, taking in the mess her life has become, just as dirty and untamed as the whipping sand. She can’t stand being here with him, alone, any longer. She gets up.

She walks towards the beach when she trips over what must be a stray driftwood root, only peeking above the dunes. Her foot stabs, she falls. Sand seeps into the seams of her dress. Looking back at her foot she sees the twisted mass, chipping, like driftwood, like rotting; moving. Curling its all too real fingers. The hand is sticking out from beneath the sand, brandishing its knuckles tighter and tighter around her ankle – crunching it. She gasps.

Crawling back on her hands, she calls out to her husband. Receiving no answer, she looks back in search of him, but he is nowhere to be seen. Her heart drums wildly at the realization. “Alone,” she tells herself.

Just as she makes an effort to stand up and run for her life, the cold hand reaches out and clamps down onto her leg.

She screams as she stumbles forward, landing face first onto the ground. She reaches out wildly in search of something to hold on to, finding nothing but useless sand, slipping through her fingers like her inevitable fate.

The sand begins to soften beneath her, creating a tiny opening in the ground. She struggles as her chin scrapes against it; now, as the sand fills her lungs. But the hand continues to drag her deeper into the pits of death. She got him; now he would get her.

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