This DRAFT scene is an excerpt from a novel I’m finishing this year (it will be edited further and may change slightly in the final version). You can find details about it and its beginning here.
The island did not sit far off the coast and could be seen from many of the resorts that dotted the coastline near Dubrovnik. Other, larger, ones—about the same distance from shore—ran in a string from Daksa in the southeast to the northwest for hundreds of miles. They ended where the Adriatic lapped the shores of Mošćenička Draga.
Daksa was smaller but craggy like most of the others. Its highest point was 72 feet above the water and it was there that what had happened kept all but courageous—some would say stupid—tourists away. Locals would not get within an arm’s throw of a mooring line of the island. Alex knew from the files that what waited below its earth and stone surface, if known about, would cause a mass exodus of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people.
* * *
“So, they’re like dead spots, those places my uncle mapped out?” Morgan asked, shuddering at the memory of the Hoia Baciu forest in Romania. Though knowing far more now than then, she still couldn’t shake how she felt about what had happened. And what was still happening.
Alex swung his legs over the salt-rimed, surf-slicked boulder and slid down until his boots sank into the wet sand. He scanned the stone-strewn beach, eyes following as it S-curved to bend around a point capped by an arc of jagged sawtooth rocks protruding from the sea to form a grimace that must become grotesque at low tide. He held a hand up to help Morgan. She ignored it. Landing beside him, she moved ahead. Shrugging, he followed her. “It’s more like they’re still dying; brown spots of rot spreading on an apple. What’s there—in these places—has festered for centuries, some for millennia, waiting to be freed. Its mere existence poisons everything around them.” He stumbled into her when she stopped.
“Some space, please!” He had been too close, the look she gave him over her shoulder told him. He let her get five feet ahead before he moved again.
* * *
They had walked for more than a mile. Morgan was struck by the stark beauty of this part of the coast. Jutting cliffs rose over the sea and at their base a jumble of rock amid patches of sand. Rounding a bend, they saw it. The skeleton of the structure sat on the point of land over the sea, crumbling with age and from unmaintained exposure to the raw elements. The house had once been magnificent and would have a majestic view of the sea and coast. They made their way to almost directly underneath and looking up saw high above the remnants of what must have been a buttressed balcony. At their feet chunks of masonry were buried in a bed of sand where the rocks that sat at the edge of the water sheltered them from the surf. Letting only swirls of water and the swash of sea foam spill over them. There were other things in the grit, too.
“Alex,” Morgan swept sea wrack away with her foot and then stepped back. “Look!”
He saw what appeared to be two sets of buried bones in the silt and sand deposited around them by the tide. Their upper torso just reached the surface. The larger rode higher, arched, like a swimmer near drowning that had breasted gasping for breath. The smaller skull rested on the shoulder bones of the larger with an arm thinly covered by sand draped across its lower rib cage.
She knelt and used the bright blue scarf she took from her head to brush away some of the sand. A gust of seawind lifted the tops from the incoming waves and sprayed them as she leaned closer. What she’d cleared revealed more of the arm; something in its small skeletal fist. She nudged it with her scarf-wrapped hand. Shed of the sand it gleamed and came free. She touched the locket and a stronger blast came off the water with a keening sound through the rocks that made her grit her teeth. She picked it up. Her hair whipped in the wind and a tingle climbed her spine. The bad kind you get when you’ve done something you shouldn’t and got caught. She quickly rose. “I wonder who they were.” She looked above at the ruined house that watched over them.” And what happened.”
Alex pointed up, “See that? The ruined house—the bedroom is directly above us—of a once beautiful woman who mourned her lost love. Seventy-one years ago, she found his body on these sharp rocks,” he gestured around them. That night she wrote in her diary, “I found him among those teeth of the sea that grind daily and will until everything is worn away. Except for the memories and regrets of what I’ve done—what I have caused.” That night she stepped off her balcony to join him. She’s cursed to repeat the pain of discovery, the guilt and then the release of death. Only it’s never a release. The file says, “When the moonfall sky turns to signal the coming sun, she leaves his side to climb the worn stone steps to her room. There she cries until moonrise when she can return to him for the few hours until dawn.”
“We’re here to do what… something with her? Something for her?” Morgan looked at Alex who was studying the fanged rocks, their shadow lengthening on the water.
He did not want to be around when they touched where they stood. “We need to go.” He took several quick pictures and then snapped his lens cap in place.
“So, what are we supposed to do now?”
“We’ve confirmed the bones are here and that the locket remained with them. With what’s in that locket your uncle can find the entrance to where the thing that cursed her—that’s killed thousands of people in this area for hundreds of years—lives.”
“And do what then?”
“Make sure that those who are coming to release it… can’t.”
* * *
They retraced their way along the beach. There was a lull in the wind. In the dead stillness, Morgan turned and looked back to where the bones lay and then canted her eyes and ears up to the house now framed in fragments of fading sun, “Do you hear that?”
“Crying,” she took her eyes from the house and glanced at the blue cloth, the locket wrapped inside still in her hand, then at Alex. “I hear crying.”
### CONTINUED IN THE NOVEL ###