Sandbank Sleuths

So who are they, these folk who dwell on the sandbank, in cardboard shelters? For the most part, they are retired sleuths, old hands who met each other long ago at the Picnic For Detectives, where they discovered a shared interest in sandbanks, cardboard hovels, and monsters of the deep. They pointedly ignore the shoals that swim in the shallows beyond the sandbank. There is not an angler among them. The occasional sighting of a lobster or a jellyfish excites them, and such is the brouhaha that one or more of the cardboard shelters collapses, from overbuffeting, and has to be re-erected before the stars come out at night. Not even the hardiest of retired detectives wants to spend the hours of darkness exposed, on a sandbank, to the pitiless gleam of moon and stars. They have their superstitions and their irrational fears, these dwellers on the sandbank, just like anyone else.

In daylight, they keep watch on the waters. Some are armed with electronic devices, run on batteries. They tick off sightings of minor monsters, such as the aforementioned lobsters and jellyfish, in ledgers. But what all of them await is for there to be a great uncanny churning maelstrom from which emerges a gigantic and terrible sea-creature never before seen by human detective eyes.

They set traps and lures, though they know not what precisely might tempt such a monster. Sprats? Minnows? Scraps of cardboard? The liver and lights of a hare or a crow? They have tried all these to no avail.

Every so often the wind whips in and blows their cardboard shelters into the sea. Then, the more nautically-gifted of the retired sleuths, those who once worked in plain clothes aboard ocean liners and cruise ships, perhaps, bound into a rowing boat and strain to retrieve the precious cardboard sheets. There is plenty of space on the sandbank to lay out the soaked and wind-scarred cardboard for drying out in the sun.

In homage to the old days, they picnic, these sandbank sleuths, and they picnic hard. Not for them such girly snacks as watercress sandwiches with the crusts cut off. They bite the lids off jamjars and spit them into a pit. Drifting sands, ah, drifting sands soon cover the pit of lids, it is effaced from the planet’s surface as if it had never been. But down there, beneath the sands, attracted by the metal lids, there are creatures burrowing, blind, mole-like creatures that sniff the metal, and the traces of raspberry jam and marmalade adhering to the metal, and they burrow with their snouts and claws, and one night soon they will push their gruesome heads above the sands, and exult in the moonlight, and gorge themselves on jam and marmalade and cardboard and sleeping sleuths.

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