In The Dunes At Night

Before my mind will vanish completely, I have to write this down. I still can not quite believe it myself, but this is the account of the events:

Silently they come. You never hear them, you never see them. They are all around us, but nobody knows. I discovered them by sheer coincidence since I am usually not walking in the dunes at night. It happened a long time ago. The cool winters in Florida leave the air filled with fog along the coastal islands, the warm water feeding gossamer veils, ever swirling and wrapping into shapes and tricking the eye, pretending to be some thing when they really are only a little moisture. Or are they?

As I walked along in the hazy light of the moon—my sleep did not want to come this night—the strangest sensation rushed along my right arm. It felt as if a wing of a downy bird had touched me, but there were no birds, only shreds of the fog. It must have clogged my ears, crawled into them to turn the dunes into a silent scape. I strained to hear any sound like the wonderful even breathing of the sea with the waves rhythmic music that normally fills the senses. But to no avail.

Fog rolling in.

— Fog rolling in —

The salty taste on my lips, a little sticky and bitter, told me of the closeness to the water, but no other confirmation could reach me. I halted my steps, I could not trust my judgment. My breathing became stronger, my chest felt too tight for my lungs. A pushing urgency crawled up from my stomach into my throat, heart pounding. Turning my head towards the stand of sea grapes I knew to be there, the fog seemed to whirl and ripple. Curiously, the unidentifiable vision pulled me toward it. I stumbled over a clump of sea oats, fell down into the arms of the soft sugar sand, a little stunned.

I Felt Hit By A Wing Again

Turning onto my back and starting to rise, I felt hit by a wing again, on the side of my head. But no sound, no visual clue to solve this puzzle. And then I started to see them. First, small black holes with tiny blinking eyes, all colors imaginable, then, shapes those eyes belonged to. Almost human faces, some very much like faces of beautiful people, some fully distorted into ugliness.

Sea Grape Leaves with masks.

— Sea Grape Leaves with masks —

I stayed on the ground, turning back onto my belly, watching. I believed that they did not see me, the fog blanketing the surrounding off and on. Beads of water collected on me, droplets running down my face, a chill climbing into me. Those faces, or rather masks, hollow and weightless floated in the branches of the tree. More and more of them landed, until the tree limbs were covered with their varying forms. Every one of them landed and bit off one leaf and dropped it to the ground until no leaves were left, only masks. Silently they greeted each other with a nod, sitting rather still, waiting.

All of a sudden the whirling fog collected itself, spun around and added layer after layer of thin veil, growing fuller with each turn, gathering all shreds of moisture around itself and stood as a tall figure, the sea grape tree with the perching masks within itself. The milky translucency of the fog creature shifted into a shape of a tall and ample woman. The masks started mewing as kittens do, the noise of their voices swelling until I had to protect my ears with my hands.

Fog mother with masks.

— Fog mother with masks —

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