The Eye – a short story

A deserted beach at midday is a lonely place. The wind whips through the grassy dunes and the cold waves grasp at the sand. Not a person in sight. No phone signal.

No help.

I walk here every day. It clears my mind, reduces stress, pushes the pure air into my lungs. I need to get out of the house, escape the noise and the pressures of family life. I don’t mind that this beach is six miles away and not connected by road. Pressing my bare feet into the shifting sand, I like to imagine that I’m the first ever human being. Or the last.

Right now, more than anything in the world, I wish there was someone with me. Someone who could reassure me that what I’m seeing here is real and not my brain playing a trick.

Here’s what I’m seeing. But is it seeing me?

A huge oval, glistening white under the bright clouds. Sand blows across its veined surface, is clumped upon stiff black spikes which fringe the edges. A pool of speckled blue is floating in the centre. Inside it, an inky black dot, shrunken in the noonday light. It looks up, up, up at the sky above.

I stare, my mouth open.

Cautiously, I move closer. There are no bumps beneath my feet that suggest anything else is buried, anything that’s part of a body. The sand is smooth, until a dip where this thing is. I bend over and peer at it, trying to process this image, understand what I’m seeing.

It looks at me.

The intensity of its gaze is like a physical force.

I crouch, kneel in the sand, press my hands into my own eye sockets. This has to be a dream. A nightmare. But I can feel the sharp breeze on my skin, smell the decaying seaweed, taste salt and grit on my tongue. The details are too real. Steeling myself, I take my hands away from my face.

The bloodshot oval is staring at me. It draws me in. My head sinks closer to it. I’m not frightened. I don’t know what this thing is doing here, but now I feel pity for it.

‘Can you hear me?’ I say. It continues to stare. There’s no mouth to respond. ‘If you can hear me, can you blink?’

With a rasping sound, a reddened eyelid moves down and slowly up. A blink.

‘Are you in pain? Blink if you are.’

Once more, the gritty rasp of an eyelid moving.

‘I’m sorry you’re suffering,’ I say. ‘Is there anything, er, more to you? Do you have a body? Once for yes, twice for no.’

Transfixed, I watch it blink twice.

It’s just an eye. A giant, suffering eye. Some kind of sentient sea monster from the depths, stranded by the tide? An alien from outer space, crashed into the beach? A genetic experiment gone wrong and left to die out here? Whatever this creature is, it needs help.

‘I’ll be back,’ I say, getting to my feet. I take a photo with my phone. Then I start to walk away. When I turn around, it’s still there, gazing up at the sky again.

 

***

 

Two hours later, I’m home. The instant I step through the door, my mum rushes up to me.

‘Thank God you’re back! I was trying to get hold of you. Dad’s in hospital again. I need you to look after Grandma.’

‘But – oh,’ I say, as the news sinks in.

She’s gone in a minute and I go to check on my grandma. She’s asleep in front of the TV. I get my phone out to look at the photo I took of the eye. Except it’s not there.

I scroll through the gallery, twice, three times, but the picture has vanished.

 

***

 

Dad’s home that evening, with different pills to try. It’s too late for me to go out and see if the eye is still there.

Next day, I retrace my steps, worrying all the way that it’ll be gone, or dead.

The weather is warmer than yesterday. When I’m near the beach, I see the waves sparkling. Removing my shoes and socks, I move on to the dry sand. I’m relieved to find the eye again. It’s staring upwards, baking under the sun.

‘Hello?’ I call. It swivels in my direction. ‘Sorry I haven’t brought help yet. I will, I promise.’

The blue pool of the iris seems to be spreading. Mesmerised, I lean closer and closer until I’m falling, falling, falling into the blue…

 

***

 

I’m awake. Confused, I lie there, wondering what happened. I can still feel the wind but it’s somehow painful, stinging. The blowing sand is all around me. The sun is beating down, red through my closed eyelids.

Correction. Eyelid. I open it with an excruciating grittiness as grains of sand rub against my eye.

I stare up at the horribly bright sky. I’m roasting, I’m on fire, I’m in hell.

Sand trickles across me and I resist the urge to blink. It’s too dry, too painful.

Where’s my phone? Where’s my mouth? Where’s my brain? And where’s my own body? Walking the six miles back home, a stranger breathing pure air into my lungs, a stranger who’ll use my bed, care for my grandma, cram food down my throat and conveniently forget about that giant eye staring at the sky.

All I can do is wait for someone else to come along, someone who wants to help me. I might have to wait for days, months, years, with nothing but my thoughts and the waves and the torturous sand and sun.

A deserted beach at midday is a lonely place.

8 thoughts on “The Eye – a short story”

    1. Thank you Meggy 🙂
      I very rarely go to the beach but this story somehow crept into my head.

    1. Thank you, how kind ? I wrote it a few months ago when I had the idea of a summer horror story.

    1. Thank you so much Jee, you’ve made my day! I’m glad you liked the story. I’m a fan of endings that reference the beginnings ??

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