The sea had claimed them both, father and brother.
Accident, misadventure, it didn’t matter what you called it. The sea had them. They’d been taken so completely that their bodies hadn’t even washed up. How cruel that was, particularly for her Man, that they didn’t have anything to bury. Nothing physical to mourn.
Some of the men of the village went out to look for them, but they didn’t come back either. The sea was calm, they were experienced fishermen – there was no way they should have been lost. And yet their boat went out and wasn’t seen again.
Suddenly this village which had been the most perfect spot in Britain when Beryl was a child, became a place of grief, a place of suffering, a place of fear.
It was a town where the women shook.
Before long, it was only the women left.
The sea, one way or another, took them all.
Whatever was happening was completely inexplicable, but it was like they were called into the water. All the men in the village, gone. Leaving no bodies to bury, no way to really mourn.
And then, one moonlit night, the sea let go of what it had taken.
Not that it gave them their men back, not in any real sense. Instead the corpses of their loved ones, rotting, their flesh scraped from their bones by the tide, their eyeballs having been nibbled away by passing fish, shambled drunkenly out of the water.
The screams consumed the town. Woman after woman waking up in their bedrooms and seeing this awful horde, the lurching sea-soaked corpses of their loved ones, coming up from the waves and into the town itself.
With Barry the landlord gone, no one had thought to lock the door of The Slain Saint George. Some of these ghostly men made their way into their home away from home.
Nancy Vaughan was the only one brave enough to peek in to see what they were up to. She said they were just sitting there. That no one poured a drink (why would dead men need alcohol?) and they just perched around the round wooden tables as they always did.
Eventually though all of the men – or these creatures who used to be men – did try to get into their old homes. In barely coherent panic, their wives, their daughters, their sisters, their mothers locked and bolted he doors. Terrified, they crouched in the darkness at this thing, which had once been their gorgeous loved one, shuffled and groaned in frustration. Raised desiccated fists to try and hammer their way through when all else failed.
The dreadfulness within the sea owned Beddnic that night. Not only had it destroyed the village by taking it all the men, it gave a cry of ghoulish triumph by sending the rotting corpses back to roam the streets again.