The woman stood on the beach, at the barest reach of the ocean waves. Foaming water danced over her toes, salty wind tossed her hair, but her body was still.

The children stood several yards behind her, rigid as if hypnotized by her immobility. Holding hands they try to match her stillness, but the wind is strong. The girl rocks back on her heels. The boy squeezes her hand harder, as if afraid she might lift up and blow away entirely.

Farther back, in the small seaside town, someone screamed. The scream turned into a howl. The sound was all pain and animalistic terror, no humanity left by the end.

Someone had either been caught out or been called out.

The monsters were smarter than the movies had led everyone to believe. They remembered names and knowing someone’s name was a powerful, powerful tool.

Still, the woman stood, as if transfixed by the reflection of the moon on the unsettled water. The foaming tips of spent waves now washed over her ankles. The tide was coming in.

“What if it’s not her?” the girl whispered.

They couldn’t see her eyes but knew the slope of her shoulders, and before she left she had taught them to question everything always.

“What if it is?” the boy answers.

Something had called their father out, and he had gone willingly into the night. She had been gone for years, but she knew his name and had given them theirs.

The dunes came alive with whispers. It could have been the wind blowing in the sea grass but the grass was calling out names.

The boy tugged the girl’s hand, pulling her aside, pulling her away. She wanted to look back because it might not be her. What if it WAS?

Shadows crawled from the dune, low and slinking, the whispers louder, louder, louder then stopping as the shadows reached the spot where the ocean met the sand.

At the water’s edge, the woman turned her head towards where the children had stood a moment ago, but seeing no one she knew she turned her eyes back to the moon.

(356 Words)