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(A short story of 1886 words)

The Whispering Cliffs


by Megan Palmer

A man walking his dog on a stormy beach hears a cry for help. Or is it?

David would have preferred to take the winding cliff top path, but the pummelling side-wind was so fierce that it could have almost knocked him off his feet even down on the beach. ‘I’d get no views today, anyway,’ he muttered to himself.

The sky was a straining deep grey, bulging with dark menace, and the rain fell as sharpened needles, seemingly attempting to pierce his icy cheeks. His waterproofs rustled angrily as he scraped each leg against one another and walked as fast as he could. His feet sank heavily into sand that had developed a dirty, murky sort of colour, as though the blackness of the unseen rocks below his feet were beginning to seep and stain the earth.

His faithful retriever Shirley padded on ahead of him, knowing by their enduring habit that they must complete their daily route, an unavoidable ritual, but discerning that the quicker they completed it the sooner it would all be over and she could resume her warm fireside rest. He watched her seeking out scents with her nose to the ground despite the miserable weather, purely from instinct. He raised his head occasionally, feeling the prickling rain and spray against his skin, his eyelashes laden with water drops. The returning grey tide seemed to him a bleak tumult and the sky looked as though it was merging entirely with the water, until you couldn’t tell where one ended and the other began...

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