White Shores

Austin Ferrullo

 

Nobody ever willingly came to the shores where the nooses hung from their erected gallows. The endless shores held secrets feared by the ones who awaken on the white rocks with no memory of why they came, but a haunting emotion of captivity. The newest victim of the shores was a middle aged man, Saba. As the gazed out over the rolling tides he was captivated by the symmetry all around him. Left or right it didn't matter the shores with its dense fog shrouding the path ahead was symmetrical all around. Saba had a hollow pit in his heart, as if upon arriving to these shores he had forgotten to take his innards along for the trip. He gazed up to the bleached sky immensely wrapped in fog and saw simply nothing. No visible sun, or gulls, no life. Saba rose to his feet and began to walk. The tide visibly crashed against the pale rocks yet made no sound. There was no sound, only the sound of ringing in Saba’s ears. The ringing was resonating from somewhere perhaps in his own head, perhaps not.  Saba continued forward, even though continuing forward seemed to yield no end, Saba continued forward. The endless shores where not dead, they were unreal as if any moment the smoke would clear and it would all make sense to him. So the waited for a moment anticipating the next move of his cage. Maddening thought of eternal damnation wrapped around Saba’s mind to the brink of insanity. This isn't heaven nor hell, but lost in between with no chance of salvation.

 

The tides never stopped, there was an eerie sense of clockwork to them. Coming in and out in perfect rhythm. As each wave crashed against the rocks Saba imagined he could hear their crashes, but the could only hear the ringing. The ringing, which he had come to the conclusion that the sound was external, had never missed a beat or dropped a pitch. In a fit of desperation Saba threw a white stone at his feet in the air cursing the god that had put him here in this captivity. An unfamiliar knocking sound disrupted his though for it was the first sound he had heard since arriving. Slowly cocking his head around the saw an endless armada of vegetation behind him. A landmark that he had overlooked so quickly. The thought of missing such life on this shore immobilized him before he had to touch the bark to ensure it wasn't a cynical illusion of his own insanity. The tree was real as well as the one immediately next to it, and the next,... and the next. They were all real and they were all aligned in perfection one immediately following the other in such a way that the forest interlocked like puzzle pieces to make an impenetrable wall. There was no visible entrance just a painted picture, fake. Tree after tree there was no end each the same as the last as if he wasn't moving in desperation Saba hammered his fist into the wood of the tree bloodying his knuckles, yet blind to the pain. He wanted a sense of reality and the knew these woods where the only means of realism he would find in this hell. The bark was chipped with each swing of his fist and blood poured like sap from the trunks. Looking at the mark he had left he ran. Ran as fast as his feet would allow him to run. Saba ran until he was red in the face and collapsed. The sky above began to swirl and blurr and for the first time since he had come here he fell asleep.

 

The sound of blood flowing through his own ears made the lids of his eyes quiver. It was a sound he never heard in his old life for the world around him was always too fast, too loud, too important for him to notice it. Grasping the trunk as support Saba raised himself to his feet. Something warm was trickling down his  fingers, something coming from the trunk. It was crimson and thick, but there couldn't be a logical explanation. Saba raised his bloodied knuckle and fit it into the groove of the tree retelling the story as the bones fit snuggly in the wedge of wood. It was impossible. either the tree had sprouted its roots and chased down the man who had tore its bark or he had not taken a single step. Both could not be true, yet couldn't be disproven.

“Acceptance is the first step to the road of recovery. Isn't that a load of shit.”

“No food, no water, no company on this island. Just the white shores, the grey sky, and the woods that didn't take kindly to outsiders.”

“I should be dead”

“Its been... a while since I've eaten, slept, had a drink I definitely should be dead”

 

Of all the horrors in the world growing incompetent by staring at a blank image haunted Saba more than anything. He could feel his brain wasting away. No logical thought had passed through his brain since he was here and occupying his sanity was a white slab of stone which he had drawn a face in blood on the front of it. He cradled it like a son and illusioned the stone speaking words to him which he would reply to and be frightened by the sound of his own voice. A rock cracked against another rock. Saba heard it clear as the ringing in his head and for all he knew the two rocks engaged in a quarrel were a mile away, but by god he heard it. Cocking his head in a slow neanderthal manner he gazed out and saw the cause of the disturbance.

It was a woman, a real breathing woman standing there gazing out onto the shore as if she was welcome in saba’s personal hell.

“hey...HEY what the hell do you think you're doing in my cage”

“I’m trying to waste away into insanity, which is difficult enough without you and your rocks arguing, so if you could keep your rocks from arguing that would be nice.”

 

She said nothing, she just stood there empty. In one hand was a lengthy strip of cord, and in the other uneven planks of timber. She swayed from left to right in a trance. With no sense of turning back she stepped out into the water and with an unearthly might she wedged the plank into the rock.

 

“S***...hey, hey you stop it” Unsure of what she was particularly doing, but Saba’s gut seemed to turn inside him with each movement she made.

 

The woman in the water wedged the second plank on top the first and strung up the two witht the cord in her hand. Over and under and just enough slack for it to fall over the front of the structure.


Saba had never seen gallows before.