Terminal Island

Terminal Island by Walter Greatshell Read Free Book Online

Book: Terminal Island by Walter Greatshell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Walter Greatshell
Tags: Fiction, Horror, Comics & Graphic Novels
everything inside you says no—you never asked for this, you don’t want it. Even if you try to break away, the burden of that knowledge pollutes everything you try to do, making your deepest hopes seem trivial in comparison to this great gift that you are spurning.”
    Her voice became haunted, her expression turning inward. Henry hated it when she got like that—he didn’t have a clue what she was going on about, and didn’t much care.
    Dreamily, she continued, “Every day you struggle on your own is like you’re drowning, swimming against the current. And you tell yourself, ‘This is how most people live—get used to it.’ But it’s hard. It’s hard to let yourself drown as a matter of principle. Sacrificing yourself and your child rather than take the hand that is offered. Because that hand…”
    She snapped herself out of it. “Anyway, you should count your blessings. Some people would give their right arm to be in a place like this.”
    “All right, all right,” Henry said impatiently. “I get it.”
    When the weather was cool, they explored the town or toured the various scenic attractions: the historic cliff mansions, the rugged inland wilderness, the sea life. Henry was especially interested in the nature tours, though most were disappointing. The glass-bottom boat was okay, but strictly for old ladies—Henry could see the same thing snorkeling, only better. The land tours were a big dud; they never saw a single bison or any other wild game.
    The flying-fish excursion, though, was more worthwhile. It was a large open boat with a powerful spotlight that followed the dark coastline and picked out nocturnal points of interest. As its beam passed over the water, schools of glassy green flying-fish flitted across the surface like skipping stones, their trembling gossamer fins catching the light.
    Shining the beam up at the cliffs revealed glowing pairs of eyes looking down at them—the eyes of wild goats, they were told. Spooky , his mother said.
    The jocular tour guide announced, “Now we’ll be making a little surprise visit to Lover’s Cove, and maybe if we’re lucky you folks can see how it got its name.” The passengers tittered.
    Arriving there, the boat crept up in darkness, the guide admonishing everyone to be quiet. Henry thought of the kelp jungle swaying in the darkness below them.
    “Sometimes we catch ’em with their pants down,” the guide whispered into the mike. At the last moment he flicked on the searchlight, flooding the tiny beach with stark, stagy brightness.
    Empty. The eager beam swept up and down the deserted shore, finding nothing to leer at. There was a sense of let-down—everybody had been looking forward to a glimpse of something naughty.
    “Aw, I wanted to see some lovers,” Henry complained.
    “Oh well,” his mother said sportingly.
    The guide’s voice pricked up. “Wait a minute, folks, wait a minute.” The light was moving, scanning and focusing in on something above the shore. “Oh yeah. Here they come now!”
    In the white circle of light, Henry could see a man and a woman walking along the cliff-side road from town. They were holding hands and shading their eyes from the glare, obviously confused.
    “Oh yeah, here we go,” smirked the guide.
    As the boat got closer and the beam homed in more intensely, the couple paused, trying to penetrate that light, then walked faster. It was no use—the powerful beam stayed trained on them.
    “ Oh no you don’t,” the guide said, like a fisherman playing a wily fish. “Where do you think you’re going?” The passengers giggled expectantly.
    As the couple hurried, looking more and more upset, the boat effortlessly kept pace with them, keeping the blinding light in their faces. There was no escape; the exposed road offered little refuge. At the top of the beach stairs was a signboard that warned of the absence of life guards, and in desperation the couple ducked behind this plywood shield, trying to

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