Hush

By: Nancy Bush

Prologue


Twelve years ago . . .





The last few minutes of Lucas Moore‘s life were spent in self-reflection.





Lucas was a surfer-dude type with long, blondish hair and a lean body, and at seventeen was, indeed, a surfer. He was also a lover. He liked girls and he had girlfriends, maybe one particular girlfriend, but things were getting kind of confusing in that department and he wasn‘t sure what to think. Especially with the particular group of girls he hung with. Their problems made him feel uncomfortable inside. He hadn‘t meant to hear all the secrets they told. He didn‘t want to know.





Maybe it was time to bail on all of ‘em and move on.





It was night. Dark. A thin moon skimmed in and out of clouds as he trudged along the beach away from the party. He found a rickety wooden staircase that led up to the bluffs way, way above.

This wasn‘t his beach. No waves, man. Just sand and smelly beach stuff.





He didn‘t much like it here. Was antsy to leave.





It was cold and he tucked the collar of his shirt closer to his neck. He was barefoot, having left his shoes back at the campfire. He wore a pair of ragged jeans and no briefs. He never wore

‘em. He‘d had sex once tonight, unexpectedly, and had a couple of other ―maybe‖ chances still out there and wasn‘t sure what to do about that. Sex was good. Sex was great.





But there were all these problems. . . .





He wasn‘t made for problems. He was made for earth and waves and sky. Big waves that roared toward you like griffins from another world. When they reached you, you climbed on their backs and rode them like the flying beasts they were. Conquered them. Flew with them, and while you were there you were in a better world, a world where earth and gravity and sound didn ‘t exist. It was just you and air and moisture and the roar of power! The board beneath your feet was barely a sensation, didn‘t even exist.





But he wasn‘t on a surfboard now. He was trudging away from the girls and their secrets and the campfire and all the problems. He was finding his peace.





Now he crested the top of the bluff and could feel his pounding heart from the exertion.

Jesus, what a long way up. Placing a hand over his chest, he closed his eyes and zenned. His thoughts expanded in all directions and then slowly coalesced and came back to him.





Okay, the girls had their problems. But maybe a little more sex wasn‘t such a bad thing. He liked women, liked feeling himself moving inside them . . . as long as they didn‘t howl and screech and claw like they were freaked out. Some guys got off on that, but Lucas liked a smooth ride with minimal stress, just sensation, the way nature intended.





Looking around, he squinted in the moon‘s uncertain light. He wasn‘t familiar with this bluff, either. The stairs he‘d climbed ran upward and eastward, cutting into the hillside so that when he‘d reached the top he was about a hundred feet inland from the western point of the bluff. Below, this jut of land cut through the beach like the prow of a ship, splitting it in half, reaching past the sand and into a rocky shoal that bubbled and frothed at the base like a cauldron.





Lucas considered. The whole area looked like private property, but he could see through the darkness that there was a trail on the other side of the gravel drive where he stood, a trail that meandered down toward the west, back the direction he‘d come, and it was littered with wrappers and beer cans. If he followed it, he might reach the ―prow‖ of this ship.





So thinking, he crossed the drive to the trail and headed west again. The trail‘s existence suggested trespassers like him didn‘t give a rat‘s ass who owned the property and just traveled it as they saw fit. That was fine with him. He wound toward the ocean, which he could hear but not see, and wished he‘d brought a beer with him.





Nearing the edge of the bluff, he slowed his steps. There was no guardrail here. No safety net. The rocks and tide pools sat three hundred feet below. Carefully, he walked to the very edge and stared into the inky night. Faint moonlight illuminated the ruffled edges of the waves to the north. Below him was blackness.





He closed his eyes and soaked in the moment. He loved the feel of the stiff breeze against his forearms where he‘d rolled back his shirt.





A noise to his left. A whisper.





Lucas cocked an ear but didn‘t move. He wasn‘t alone.





Slowly, he turned. In the grass to his right, a bare human leg. Moving.





―Hey, man . . .‖ he said apologetically. He wasn‘t the only one getting some tonight.





And then the leg jumped up and a figure leapt in front of him.





―Oh, Jesus,‖ Lucas said, surprised.





The figure raced toward him and Lucas automatically recoiled.





And that‘s when it happened. The ground beneath his foot shimmied. He was still feet from the cliff‘s edge but a chunk of dirt and sand suddenly gave way.





One moment he was processing; the next he was falling through a black sky.





The next he smashed onto a bed of large stones, landing faceup.





He looked up at the smiling moon, which tore through the clouds at that very moment and shone down on him lovingly.

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