Today’s story is inspired by a bit of childhood folklore and the darkest of futures.
The Sound of the Shell
The shell was huge and for a moment Sarah shuddered at the thought of the creature that once lived within. Outside the shop, Saturday crowds went about their business, the noise crashing against the shopping centre walls and echoing in return.
Striped in red and white, the shell was large enough for Sarah to slip in her hand and feel the ridges, imagining the flesh of the now dead, now rotted, now lost creature, pressing up against the inside.
Tipping it to one side, she placed her head against the opening, listening as she was shown to as a child. Listen to the sound of the ocean trapped in the curls and turns.
If she could hear the water. maybe by glancing within she could see the distant waves.
Sitting down on the rough carpet, Sarah placed her face to the opening and stared into the polished blackness within. A few moments passed until her eyes adjusted to the darkness.
She saw the waves, saw them creeping up the beach, each year relentless and endless. She saw the ocean claim the lands. First the low-lying fields and towns, pushing people further and further inland, then higher and more distant until cities became enclaves, families forced up the highest buildings, the water below filled with the bodies that didn’t make it. Above the remaining homes the sun baked the dead water stagnant, salt and corpses turning it undrinkable.
She watched people die of thirst like the Ancient Mariner, and saw their friends and family slit open bodies to recover what little moisture there was available. She saw the world die slow and then the people die fast, and when she rocked the shell away from her across the shop floor there was little to do apart from curl in upon herself and hide away from the coming world.