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Sandcastles

by Mark (Mitch) Weil 3 months ago in Short Story
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Could Sand People Populate Sandcastles?

We live in a crazy, unpredictable world. Dangers abound beyond our control and tragedy is a way of life. However, we are a resilient people. Generations of hardship breed a specific type of toughness. Our clan, named Highwell after the enormous hollow tower in the first castle our ancestors occupied, is one of the toughest of them all. I was chosen to lead us after my uncle returned to the earth. After all, with the world we inhabit, we can’t afford weak leaders chosen only by dynastic succession. Only the strongest, bravest, and smartest are selected to lead the Highwell clan. Even so, sometimes there are days that discount skill and smarts altogether.

The day in question started like any other for me: making sure things were running smoothly with the clan. I always start my days giving personal attention to the people. Everyone needs confidence in their leader, and one of the best ways to do that is to consistently interact with them. If they can feel the calm and assurance that I try to send out during our meetings, then they can go about doing what they need to do without distraction or worry. Today I met with the builders. The castle is in need of constant upkeep, especially the walls. The builders do their best to keep things up to standard, but it’s a monumental task. We met at the seaward side of the castle to check the degradation of the walls due to water damage. The perpetual pounding of the surf undermines the foundations of both the walls and the castle itself, so it’s critical to keep a sharp eye on things.

As soon as we completed our circuit, a slight tremor rippled the ground. There was a moment of complete silence following the shaking. It was like the entire castle, the entire world perhaps, took a collective breath and held it for just that one instant. Another tremor struck the castle, followed in quick succession by several more. Next, a sharp, keening noise shattered the air and the outer wall exploded. As terrifying as it may seem to be flying through the air as pieces of your castle hurtle towards you and those that you care for, I had actually been trained for this. I executed a mid-air roll and popped back to my feet before beginning to issue orders for evacuation. It was hardly necessary; my clan had been trained for this as well. Giant attacks, after all, aren’t that uncommon.

The giant had blown through the outer wall with one kick, but it was still quite small. However, it was clearly in a rage and therefore no less destructive despite its modest size. The shrill keening continued as the giant stomped around, waving balled fists towards the sky. It appeared to be in such a tantrum that our castle’s destruction hadn’t been a goal at all. We were merely collateral damage to its fury. Goal or not, my people were in danger and it’s my job to save as many as possible. The giant was coming around for another pass, seeming to stumble in its efforts of movement. As it lurched forward yet again, steaming waterfalls plummeted to earth from its face, scalding the ground where they landed. Time slowed as I saw a child desperately attempting to run across the heaving ground to the relative safety of a covered archway. So intent was he on the destination that the child didn’t see the boiling rain. Arms and legs pumping in a frenzy, I picked up speed and dove through the air.

Time appeared to slow even more during that flight, and my body was so close to the seething droplets that for a split second I could even see myself reflected in them. Breath flew from my lips as we rolled to safety, the child’s elbow driving it from my midsection. As I gasped and panted, the giant once more made contact with the castle. This time clipping the keep and its tower. I stared in horror as I understood the repercussions of that incidental contact: if anything else nudged the tower, it would collapse and most of the clan would die. It would happen under my leadership, and there was nothing I could do. The giant swung around in a large, swaying arc back toward the tower and all seemed lost. As it came within range of our destruction, the ground shook once more. A shadow then blotted out the sun, and a new giant showed its craggy face.

This one was easily 3 times the size of the original, and I closed my eyes in despair knowing our doom was assured. Yet, all of a sudden, the shaking stopped abruptly. I opened my eyes and looked up to see a miracle in the making. The larger giant had scooped up the smaller in its arms, and was rocking it from side to side as if it was a baby. It then turned on its heel and headed away from the Highwell castle. Dust floated down in the air, turning every angle into a surreal scene of destruction. Everyone I could see stared around with glassy eyes, shock plain to read on their faces. It seemed inconceivable that we had survived. That such a wondrous intervention had occurred to save us from ruin.

My senses soon snapped back into focus, and I arranged the full evacuation of the castle. The smaller giant had caused too much devastation; the castle wouldn’t be able to be rebuilt. The keep tower would collapse at the slightest provocation and I wasn’t willing to risk any of my people in an attempt to fix it. Finally, we set out in search of a new home after our most recent tragedy. But as I told my people, fear not. Despite losing one home, rest assured that we will find another. For if there is one thing giants love to do, it’s building more castles along the shore.

Short Story

About the author

Mark (Mitch) Weil

I am an aspiring author, both in the novel and short story genres. I have loved books and reading my entire life, and look forward to creating the same awe and wonder in readers that other authors have done for me over the years.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (1)

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  • Meg Seiler2 months ago

    I love this! The imagination, and the notion of characters living in sand castles...just love it!

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