Teller’s Cove Chapter 10

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Chapter 10
The world exploded around Jerry. The sky above him lit up. Brilliant electric blue lines arced all around him as the sky split into pieces.  Air crackled. Wind and rain assailed his bare arms and legs. He did not know where he was, but it was not his bed.
He spun around to get a look at his surroundings. His bare foot slipped on the slick, cold, wet wood. Disoriented, he fell headlong toward the ground two stories below. A wrought iron railing caught him all that stopped him from the fatal fall. It creaked dangerously pushed against it to regain footing. Jerry dropped to his knees for stability.
His heart pounded hard in his ears, nearly drowning out the wind and thunder. He was wet and cold. Water poured from his hair into his eyes; he could not see anything save for the occasional bright purplish flashes that warned him of the next ear-splitting thunder crack. He risked releasing the metal frame with a single hand so he could wipe the water from his eyes. The cove lit up under the illumination of the electrical storm.
He held on tightly as the wind tried to push him from his perch. Another lightning bolt struck so near that its thunder almost burst his ears.  It arched around the clouds above lighting the property. The view induced vertigo. The world spun around him as he clung to the metal cage and prayed that the lightning that did not strike the house.
Jerry realized that he was on the widow’s watch. Lightning could strike the wet metal structure at any second. If it did not, he would die. It was a death trap. He had to get off the roof; he had to let go of the metal railing.
For the first time, he noticed the light coming from the open hatch on the far side of the platform. If he did not get down, he knew the lightning would kill him, but he could not bring himself to release his grip on the solid railing. The ladder down was a scant few feet away. He desperately wanted to escape back into the safety of the warm, dry house. His body refused to respond.
Wild waves, visible in the flashing light crashed violently against the reef, sending plumes of water high into the air. On the rocks, Jerry could see a dark shape move slowly, ignoring the surf’s powerful barrage. Jerry fought against his childhood fears. He refused to buy into Ted’s crazy stories.  Ghosts did not exist. Nevertheless, something was out there, on the reef.
The strobing light from the storm and, the waves made it impossible to identify. It moved like an animal, a quadruped. Jerry wiped the dripping water from his face again to see it better.  As it crawled flat across the jagged rocks, Jerry could tell that it was larger than a man. At least it was bigger than the Jet skier had seemed from the porch. Whatever it was, its shape was wrong, almost, but not quite like a seal. Jerry would have thought that even a seal had the sense to get out of a storm.
“Jerry! What the hell are you doing?” Ted’s voice startled him. The light dimmed as Ted’s head emerged from the hatch. “Jesus, how did you get out here?”
“I don’t know. I was asleep.” He yelled back, but the din of the storm drowned his voice out.
“Look! There’s something on the reef.” When the next flash lit the cove, it was gone, back to the safety of the water.
Ted climbed out onto the slick widow’s watch. “I don’t see anything. Get back in the house. Do you want to get killed?”
“It’s gone!”
“Jerry! Go down now!”  His eyes scanned the cove and the shore for the elusive creature as Ted tugged on his leg.
“Yeah, I’m coming.” Jerry shifted his feet slowly toward the hatch, hands inching along the cold metal railing that was the only safeguard against a fatal plummet to the ground two stories below. Ted went down first and helped steady Jerry to the hatch. His legs were cold, stiff, and shaking. He slipped a few times, once banging his elbow on the metal. “Ouch!”
“Serves you right.” Once Jerry was back in the hall, Ted went back up and secured the hatch. “What were you doing up there?
“I saw something on the reef, a large seal maybe.” He sat on the floor, his legs too shaky to support his weight.
“You climbed out onto a metal platform in a lightning storm to look at seals?”
“It was moving, crawling along the reef.”
“Look, the storm can play tricks; I thought I’d seen all kinds of strange things on that reef. None of which was worth a closer look.” Ted got up and went into the bathroom to fetch his brother a towel “There are seals all over the coast. Stupid thing to die for, seal watching.”
“Ted, I don’t remember going up there.” To the best of his knowledge, he had never been a sleepwalker. Was it possible that he had an unconscious death wish?
“I was sure I had locked that hatch. I should buy a padlock for it. It’s a good thing you’re a loud screamer. I barely heard you.”
“I was screaming?”
Ted’s eyebrows furrowed deeply. “Yeah. Are you okay?”
“I just found out that I’m a sleepwalker, and may be as crazy as our great-whatever grandpa. What do you think?”
“Dry off; let’s get some coffee or hot chocolate. I think I have a couple of packs left in the cupboard.”

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