Beware the Tentacles

We found a wild place to stop the car. My brother, Aaron, and I helped our wives carry gear to the lonely beach. Though winds from the recent storm whipped the waves to froth, we didn’t get many chances to all leave work on a weekday. My wife, Maggie, insisted we go. Shy Haley, my sister-in-law, abetted as usual.

Once we’d hauled everything, I suggested we take a walk to see what the storm had dragged up. The women wanted to stay to organize, but Aaron agreed.

“Like when we were kids, Justin.” My brother, my baby brother, patted me on the back.

Strong seas had littered the beach. We hiked around driftwood, trash, dead fish, and creatures like aliens dragged up from the deeps. A large jellyfish slumped in a puddle of membranes, slimy loops trapped in wet sand.

“Beware the tentacles,” Aaron said.

Lifting his foot to pass, he lost his balance in the wind. That’s all it was; I never touched him. He cried out and grabbed his ankle as he collapsed on the sand.

“Aaron…brother…” My voice, I believed, was appropriately warm, but he stared strangely, his face screwed in pain. “You don’t look so good,” I said.

He gaped as though to scream, but nothing came. He clutched his chest and sucked for breath. He flailed his hand toward our wives up the beach.

“Who should I get? Haley? Or would you rather I brought your lover, my wife?”

His eyes flew wide.

“I caught your performance from work. The house security cam recorded everything. I guess Maggie forgot to turn it off.”

Aaron rolled to his belly and clawed, trying to stand. To the end, I watched him struggle then smoothed the churned sand.


The Meta-Story: This is my contest entry for Daily Flash Fiction at  In 24 hours, write a story no longer than 300 words using the words stop, leave, and beware.  My entry is 295 words.  Turns out this is a marvelous way to waste time when I should be working on my novel.