Both Maggie and I loved going to the seaside in the summer, and so, since it was a sunny day, that’s what we were doing for Father’s Day. In the past, it was me taking Maggie there, but that day, she was the one driving us there, allowing me to relax and read the book she bought me for this day on the trip there.
Every time Maggie took me to the seaside, I had a mental image of there barely being anyone there and she and I taking a quiet walk across the crashing waves. That’s what I kept imagining even on the drive even though a part of me knew that since it was Father’s Day, the place would be packed. Indeed it was; you could barely see the sand from how many families were sunbathing, having picnics and building sandcastles. ‘Well, so much for a quiet day,’ Maggie joked when she opened the car doors.
Before going to the sandy area, we took a brief walk along the nearby town, memories of days gone by awakened by seeing shop windows full of floatation aids and plastic sandcastle moulds. After Maggie bought me an ice cream cone and herself a strawberry lolly in the shape of a squirrel, what she always had when we came here years ago.
Both of us thought, or at least hoped, that the beach would be a little less crowded after walking through town, but it was still packed, and we found ourselves navigating it for a spot where we could sit and enjoy the sunshine and I could read my book.
‘Well, if we take off the rose-coloured glasses for a bit,’ said Maggie, looking at how her squirrel had already become a shapeless blob, ‘the beach always was a bit crowded when I came here as a kid.’ Indeed, I instantly remembered it being that way.
Soon enough, we found a good spot to sit, one that was close to the sea.
Close enough that we saw the monster emerging.
A gangly creature with skin the colour of seaweed, who had tentacles in place of legs that slapped around on the ground as it came to the shore. It looked at Maggie, me and everyone on the beach with three yellow eyes that blinked independently, and the cream-coloured dress it wore did nothing to make it look less bizarre.
I froze in fear, and was the only one on the beach to do so. Some fainted, many ran and Maggie marched in front of me, chewing the top off her lolly stick to make a makeshift weapon. She shoved it into the monster’s face with a shuddering hand and growled.
‘Flee!’ cried the monster, waving around her arms which were also tentacles. She also had tentacles where there should have been a mouth, which wobbled when she talked. ‘Flee before I devour you.’
Maggie didn’t try to stab the monster with her lollipop stick, but pantomimed it as a warning. I almost saw this as an opportunity to flee, but then the monster said something which made me stay:
‘Could you please leave? For Dad’s sake?’
‘Dad?’ asked Maggie, lowering her weapon.
‘Okay,’ said the monster, ‘I’ll explain why I’m doing this. My Dad….you see, our species likes eating a lot of things you humans wouldn’t. We like eating pocket lint and algae and mud, but coins are quite a delicacy. Because of this, my Dad likes to pretend to be a pirate with some of his friends and they force humans on boats and on seasides to give him their coins. It’s got me and Mum worried sick.
‘I overheard him saying he was planning on attacking this beach next. I thought if I scared everyone away beforehand, it would discourage him. So, if I were you, I’d run away before…’
‘Gertrude! What be this?’
Sure enough, another of Gertrude’s species arose from the waves, a tall green creature wearing a tattered brown coat and waistcoat, along with an eyepatch and a captain’s hat. In one of his tentacle-arms, he wielded a cutlass, which he waved in the air as he fully emerged. Maggie held me tightly by the arm and raised her lolly stick again.
‘Cut it out, Dad, it’s not funny anymore.’
‘How dare ye!’
‘This is for your own good, Dad. We don’t want to hurt humans…’
‘But Gertude, it be Father’s Day! Let me have me fun!’
‘Just come back home, Dad,’ Gertrude sighed before turning to us, ‘Hey, do you have any coins you can spare? Maybe that’ll get him to leave.’
‘Okay,’ I said as I came forward, which made Maggie release me, ‘look, I’m a father too, you know. Why don’t we talk about this as we have a quiet, nice walk down the seaside, okay?’
‘Fine,’ said the Captain.
Then Maggie and I had that quiet, nice walk down the seaside we had always fantasised about, all the while talking to Gertrude and her father about their problems. They both went back to the sea to go home and think about it, but not before Maggie gave them some of her spare change.
The Captain previously appeared in The Canal Creatures.