Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Message in a Bottle, pt. 4, 407 words

Now... now I was really beginning to get disturbed. I got up and looked back at the bottle I'd tripped on. My eyes were drawn along the direction its neck was pointing, and I saw another – not one of the others I'd already grabbed and dropped, those were clustered together a short distance away, but a fifth bottle. Involuntarily, I walked over and tracked my gaze in the direction that the fifth bottle's neck pointed. Number six poked out of the sand.

Just to be sure, I pulled number five out of the sand and forced the cork out. help, written in that same reddish-brown ink on an identical scroll of crackling old paper.

Wait...

I yanked an adhesive bandage off my elbow, which I'd scraped yesterday. A few hairs tugged loose with it. Holding the bandage in my hand next to the paper, I squinted in the failing light.

It was hard to be certain, but the ink could have been blood. The small stain of dried blood on the bandage looked almost exactly the same color. For all I knew, the differences in color could have been from fading with age, or something in the paper.

Slowly, drawn on by mounting curiosity, I followed the path laid out by the bottles. One led to another and another and another, up the beach an interminable distance. I lost track of time as I followed the line, convinced this was a horrible idea but too intrigued to stop. I wasn't sure that turning back would help me anyways.

The bottles came closer and closer, soon in groups of two or three. Sometimes more. Every once in a while I paused to check one, and the same note was within each. The beach seemed to go on forever, a thin strip of sand with the ocean on one side, and ever more trees on the other. I looked up, shading my eyes against a ray of light that broke through the clouds as the sun lowered in the sky, and the water in the distance looked different. The wrong color.

I stepped lightly, hurrying forward to see what was wrong. The discoloration came closer, and I soon realized that it was a mass of bottles. All of them that same cloudy green color, so many that they choked the beach where they gathered. Waves splashed futilely against their mass, trying and failing to reach the sandy shore.

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