Lynn Miclea: Shimmer

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Lynn Miclea

Ryan laughed and punched Scott affectionately on the arm as they trudged along the beach, their feet sinking into the soft sand. Getting away for the day and going to the beach was the best idea. And going with his best friend was even better. Now fifteen years old, they had been best friends since grade school, and they loved walking along the beach and talking about everything and nothing. Living in walking distance of the beach was the best thing.

Scott guffawed and pushed back at Ryan.

As they made their way down the sand toward the water’s edge, Ryan suddenly stopped and sucked in a breath.

Scott glanced over at his friend. “What?”

“Look.” Ryan pointed in front of them.

“Where? I don’t see …” Scott’s eyes grew large. “What the …”

Ryan glanced around. The rest of the beach was empty — there were no other people around. Just the one bizarre scene in front of them that he could not comprehend. He stared at four empty beach chairs — normal, blued-striped beach chairs. Beach chairs which had slowly risen about six inches into the air.

He smacked Scott. “Do you see that?”

Scott nodded, then quietly answered. “Yes, I see it. But how is that possible?”

“I don’t know.”

“Maybe it’s just an illusion.”

Ryan licked his dry lips. “If it is, it’s a hell of an illusion.”

As they watched, the chairs rose higher and now hovered about one foot off the ground. The space between the chairs seemed shimmery, as though a soft haze of light settled in the air where the chairs floated.

Scott bent down and picked something off the ground. “I want to try something,” he said quietly. He bounced a small rock in his hand a few times and then threw it into the shimmer between the chairs.

The rock disappeared with a soft fizzle. Ryan’s mouth fell open. “Did you see that? It disappeared.”

Scott nodded. “I know — it didn’t land anywhere or come out the other side, it just disappeared. It’s like some kind of vortex.”

Ryan gestured toward the sand and spoke with quiet intensity. “Throw another one.”

Scott found another small rock, picked it up, and bounced it in his hand a couple times. Then he threw it into the strange vortex.

Both boys gasped and jumped backward as a scaly claw reached out of the shimmer, caught the rock, and pulled back, quickly disappearing.

Ryan felt his throat close up. “What the …”

Scott grabbed Ryan’s arm. “We gotta get out of here.”

“But what was that?”

Scott’s voice shook. “I don’t know, and I don’t wanna know. We need to go.”

“Wait. Let me try.” Ryan looked around. Spotting a small, round stone, he picked it up and felt its weight, shaking it in his hand a few times. Taking a step forward, he lobbed the stone into the vortex.

A scaly claw reached out of the shimmer and grabbed the stone, but this time did not pull back. A gray scaly face materialized in the vortex, piercing black eyes staring at them. A sense of malevolence and evil permeated the area. The claw made a quick flicking movement, and the stone was thrown back at them, with such velocity that they heard it whiz past their heads and slam into a tree fifty yards away.

Yelping and whining, the two boys quickly turned and ran back across the beach to the trees and parking area, tripping over their feet and gasping for breath. As they reached the edge of the tree area, they turned and looked back over the beach.

The four blue-striped beach chairs abruptly fell back to the sand. Two small rocks appeared in the air and fell. A diffused glow glimmered in the air a few seconds and then vanished.

The beach now looked pristine, as though nothing had happened. Four blue-striped beach chairs sat in the sand, facing the water, appearing innocent and safe. A few seagulls glided by as though it were an ordinary day.

Scott turned to Ryan. “Did that just happen? You saw all that too, right?”

Ryan nodded. “Yes. Unless we both experienced some type of hallucination.”

“No. Look.” Scott pointed to one of the trees.

Ryan turned and leaned in to see better. A fresh sliver in the bark was clearly visible, and on the ground below it sat the smooth stone he had earlier tossed into the vortex and which had been swiftly thrown back. It was real.

A soft luminescence shimmered around the stone.

Scott and Ryan grabbed at each other, turned, and ran through the parking area and into the street. Sweating and breathing heavily, they walked toward their homes, not saying a word.

Finally arriving at Scott’s house, Ryan looked at him. “I have no idea what that was and I’m freaking out.”

Scott nodded, his face pale. “I don’t think I want to go back to the beach for a while.”

“Me neither. Maybe we can just walk down by the park next time.”

“Maybe. If my heart will ever slow down again.”

Ryan gave a small laugh. “Yep, you and me both.”

“And we don’t tell anyone what happened, right?”

Ryan shook his head. “No one would believe us anyway. We would just sound crazy. I wouldn’t believe it myself if someone told me any of this. So yeah, we can’t tell anyone.” He took a deep breath. “But one day I’d like to know what actually happened out there.”

Scott chuckled. “I don’t think I want to know. And I hope we never find out.”

“What? You really don’t want to know?”

Scott shook his head. “No. Because the only way to find out would be to have more substantial contact with … with … whatever that was. And I’m not sure any of us would survive that.”

Ryan let out a long breath. “Good point. You’re right. Let’s hope it was a freak of nature and it never comes back. And I agree. I don’t think I ever want to know what happened out there.”

After saying goodbye, Ryan turned and headed home. Almost at his house, he stopped and stamped his feet to remove the excess sand. As he turned up the driveway, something got his attention, and he glanced behind him and gasped.

Some of the sand, now on the sidewalk, shimmered with a soft glow.


Copyright © 2021 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.

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4 thoughts on “Lynn Miclea: Shimmer”

  1. I like the way the story forced me to consider what I would do in the situation. We like to think we’re brave and would act like the hero in a movie, but this story forces the reader to realize if such a thing were to happen, things would not be so clear cut. The drive for self-preservation is strong, especially when the choice does not involve life-and-death stakes. If the boys’ dog had disappeared, or a small child, they might have acted differently. A very thought-provoking and enjoyable story.

    Liked by 2 people

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