Hope your spring/season is coming along nicely, mine is having somewhat of an identity crisis, one day it's cool enough to wear a wrap and the next it's summer already, but otherwise all is good and busy.
The prompt this month at
is April Fools, and I am back with a flash. A welcome change and a breather from all that poetry and abstruse rhyme schemes and stuff I have been fiddling with daily for the A-Z. Nice to write something without climbing rhymes and such occasionally! :)
Ratan ran careful not to step on anything that could slice his bare sole open. He was alert too for stuff that he could use. Over the years, he had picked up and upcycled bits from this beach. Last year he had seen a patch of torn fishing net with a tangled shoe, later his art installation incorporating it had won an award. He had found that bottle too, crusted with dried seaweed, very authentic. He smiled as he remembered. Kamal had been completely taken in, really had thought it was a message in an ancient bottle. Rather a satisfying April Fool’s last year. Ratan smiled wider. Kamal was in for serial surprises today too.
The generous sweep of sand suddenly became narrow, rockier. Ratan slowed down to a fast walk. A hundred yards of this rocky outcrop, and then it was the same silky golden sands, minus the burnt cigarette butts and broken glass and signs of human presence. No closed shops here, no upturned boats, no drying fishing nets. He loved this stretch of desolation, the palm fringed sands patterned delicately, left satin smooth as the waves receded, or rippled by the winds above the waterline, unbroken all through by a single footprint. No-one ventured this far out.
Ratan stopped, stripped down to his shorts and ran into the waters. The currents were strong, though the ocean looked deceptively calm. The waves pulled him out, and he swam back when the sunlight roughened. As he walked up, he noticed a long tongue of debris spilling from between two large rocks on the high tide mark. Strange. This was not a spot favoured by the day-trippers. And the debris was not the usual litter that the tourists left. He moved towards it.
The pile was half hidden behind the boulders. Some blackish, plasticky material. A torn luggage handle, discoloured, so tattered that it looked like seaweed. A laminated sheet, scratched but still quite legible. He picked up a small cylindrical object, dented and covered with muck, but otherwise whole. It had a transparent window. He scraped away the crust, there was something inside, curls of stuff. The top wouldn’t unscrew, his hands were slippery wet. He got his shirt, and knotted the sleeves together to form it into a bag, then threw the things into it and knotted the other end. He picked up the bundle by the tied sleeves, and started back. But now he ran like a man in a panic, his strides no longer measured and easy, as if the tranquillity had suddenly seeped out of the morning.
The light at the window was getting too strong to snooze through. Kamal squinched one eye open and looked at the clock – almost 8 o’clock, what date was it? Sunday, 1st April, 2018. Ratan would have organised another series of fool pranks, no doubt. His connect with his twin was deep, but not deep enough to give him advance warning of the jokes. No useful twin-like telepathy, they were not identical. He threw off the covers, and walked to the bathroom. As he squeezed the tube of toothpaste, it squelched and spewed a long green floppy bug onto his toothbrush. Startled, he dropped everything, and then sighed, exasperated. The bug was plastic, of course, a child’s trick. Another silly April Fool’s prank.
When he came out Ratan had returned. There was a bundle on his desk, wet in patches. He was trying to twist something open.
“Hey, dude, lend a hand.”
“No, thanks. Probably got something real waiting to jump out.”
“Don’t be an ass. This lot’s from the beach.”
“This thing –. Something's in it.”
“Not again? You did that last year, remember? ‘Message in a bottle.’ You running out of ideas or what?”
“See for yourself. No-one could make this up.”
Kamal was skeptical. There was a sheet, the front half of a laminated airline ticket wallet. A luggage handle. Really, Ratan was turning into a remarkable artist if he could make it look this authentic.
Ratan finally twisted off the lid, and Kamal saw that it was a small plastic flask with a display window. Inside there were a few pieces of paper or fabric. Ratan fished them out carefully, laid them on the desk, and immediately froze. Kamal, still disbelieving, moved closer. His eyes widened.
“If you’ve done this, then I must say it's in terrible taste, brother!”
“Think I’m crazy? It’s washed up. Somebody’s torn cabin bag.”
“The flight details are on the boarding pass, here, can you see? And that page’s torn from a passport.”
“But that's years ago! and it crashed near Australia!”
“That's what they estimated. But nothing's ever been found, not even a floating bloody flipflop - could have crashed anywhere. The software could have been wrong by a thousand miles. Or it could have just swilled around and washed up here. Plastic doesn't degrade easily.”
Kamal put his arm around his twin’s shirtless shoulders. Ratan was shivering a little, half cold, half in something between excitement and shock.
“Poor old chap,” Kamal touched the fragments gently, “he must have known when he put those scraps in. Beyond terrible.”
“I guess that’s why he put them, his last chance to get the word out.”
“Yeah, I suppose. You’d better get the word out too. Ring the coastguards.”
“I should, yeah. Incredible, hunh? They’ll probably think I’m a crank caller.”
Kamal stroked the fragments softly again, as though closing a dead man's eyes, then picked up the phone and held it out.
WC - 1003
All feedback welcome.
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