Not one of them called the police. The entire night no one called the police.Despite their terror, despite their muffled cries as they realised they were trapped in their homes by the thing at their front door – the things that used to be their men – not one of them thought to call the police.
How could they?
There was scarcely a policewoman for fifty miles and given all that had befallen their men, it would be wrong to invite the boys in blue uniforms into the village.
Besides, how do you call the police on your man when he’s just doing the same harmless thing he’s always done?
So, they rode through their terror. Clenched their fists tight, held pillows to their faces to muffle their cries, and prayed for dawn.
Somehow they knew, all of the women knew, that this – whatever it was – would have an endpoint.
Indeed, by the early morning’s light, they were gone. Every one of the men had lurched and shambled and limped (and in some cases crawled) back to the sea.
Once the front door had stopped shaking with inchoate fury, when the incoherent mutterings had started to drift away, tentatively the women emerged from their hiding places.
From the windows they watched their men leave. The first glints of red sunlight poking through the clouds, their sons, fathers, brothers and assorted loved ones, pulling themselves back into their new home. It was like a scene of evolution in reverse.
That morning, the women stood together and wept. Their grief bursting from the depths of their souls, shaking their bodies and trembling their spirits. It was catharsis, but it couldn’t last.
There was a gasp of relief, hugs among the women in the morning, even as there was a sense – as clear as the one that daylight would bring some kind of respite – that on another moonlit night the men would be back.
There was no one to call, no one they could explain it too, and so they swallowed and steeled themselves and tried to be ready for the terror ahead.
Except for Beryl – beautiful, tall, elegant Beryl who had so much promise – who stood and shouted at the sea. Wanting to know why, wanting to understand what was happening. Articulating the questions the entire town of women wanted answered.