Table of Contents
Where Lost Things Are Found
Before I had become more than what is observed, I had a hobby of hiking(read: wandering) along the shoreline bordered by crumbling cliffs. I enjoyed the sound of the sea, the smell of salt in the air, and the freshly exposed rock formations. Occasionally, I would find something washed up: driftwood, seashells, and quite often, plastic junk.
I considered it a fair exchange, I enjoyed the environment, and in exchange, I helped keep things clean. I also profit from the occasional trinket.
The Loss of One’s Path
I made it a habit to avoid walking there at night. Several reasons for this: changing of tides floods the whole of the path, vagrants, and darkness.
The darkness, I can manage with a source of light. Vagrants I can avoid. But tides would be a life endangering mistake. Of course, some days, luck just fails.
I first became aware of a group of people from their voices. The sounds of the waves breaking masked where the voices came from, but I could see that a group was heading down the shoreline in the opposite direction as me. Normally, this would not be an issue, but today, by the time I was close enough to smell the alcohol, it was too late. They weren’t so much vagrants as they were hooligans. Some unknown joke got them laughing and worked up. Their gesturing in my direction made me feel extremely uncomfortable. When we passed each other, I thought perhaps everything was fine.
It was not.
“Hey You”. That was what I heard, along with the sounds of footfalls dying abruptly. Ignoring them and walking on seemed like a good idea until I heard their footfalls transition from silence, to walking, to running. My own footfalls soon mirrored theirs’.
This chase had me going further down the shoreline than I had intended that day and the tide was coming in. The group slowed and eventually headed back, but they hung around long enough that I didn’t want to return the way I came.
The sound of sand and gravel was soon replaced with the sound of splashing. I hurried down the dwindling shoreline, keeping an eye out for a way to escape the tides.
By the time the water reached my knees, I was starting to panic. Forwards or backwards, it was just irregular cliff face and water. I knew I didn’t want to risk swimming and searched for any kind of rock or ledge. Finding purchase was easy. Finding a stable hunk of rock was not.
Several false starts finally gave way to my getting a couple of feet above the water. Stiff muscles and wet clothing. The phrase “I was screwed” frequently crossed my mind.
Once the Sun set, I was blindly feeling around. Cold. Breathing heavily. Starting to feel numb.
I made it some 3 feet before I slipped. I don’t remember if my shoe slipped or if my hand slipped. My hands were abraded and lacerated by the rough rock face. I slid down some distance before my foot found some purchase. Felt solid. As I tried to relocate some place to stabilize myself, what I assumed was a rock shifted under me. I had started to fall again, but this time, it felt like I fell “in” while the sound of a large mass falling into the ocean sounded. I had lucked into falling into the indentation the recently vacated mass provided. Only, it wasn’t an indentation, but appeared to be the entrance to some cave structure.
I took a moment to catch my breath. My hands stung, my knees stung, and I was exhausted. It was right then, that my calf decided to cramp up on me. Reacting to the cramp, I shifted my weight. There wasn’t more surface to roll over onto. Just a black empty space that I fell into. I felt a sharp pain explode and my vision went white with stars, then I stopped being aware of the world around myself.