Chloe opened her eyes and quickly turned off the alarm. Last night when she’d suggested to her friends that they all get up early and watch the sunrise at the beach, she’d gotten only incredulous looks and the impression that nobody would be particularly happy if she woke them up before the sun was above the horizon. She yawned, thinking they had a point and wondering if she should just go back to sleep, but she decided that she was awake now and might as well make it worthwhile. As quietly as she could, Chloe changed into her swimsuit, grabbed a room key and her cell phone (in a plastic bag so it wouldn’t get wet), and headed out the door.
The beach was within walking distance as long as you were willing to climb over a large hill of sand. (A sand dune? Or did those have to be in deserts? Chloe wasn’t sure.) As Chloe headed away from the lights shining from the building she was staying in, she suddenly realized that it was actually quite dark. After a bit of fumbling, she managed to operate her phone through the plastic bag well enough to turn on the flashlight.
Kids in the future are going to think they’re called flashlights because it’s the same light as the camera flash on your phone, Chloe found herself thinking as she held her phone out to illuminate the ground in front of her. She’d come to the hill of sand (sand dune?), and her left sandal sank into the sand and fell off almost immediately as she began to climb. Sighing, she picked up her lost sandal and removed the right one, holding them both in her hands as she reached the top of the hill. From there, she could see the silhouette of another person. Resisting the urge to shine her flashlight at the figure—she didn’t want to blind anyone—Chloe opted instead to make her way towards the other person. The figure looked up and took a few steps towards Chloe as she approached.
“I’m afraid I can’t let you near this beach, miss,” said the figure, who Chloe was now close enough to recognize as a man she’d met at the beach yesterday. More specifically, her friends had met him; Chloe had been busy collecting seashells. She was pretty sure he was a tour guide or a lifeguard or something.
“Why not?” Chloe demanded. She hadn’t gotten up while it was still dark only to be turned away from the beach.
“Jellyfish have been going missing.” His tone was grave, as though this were a serious tragedy. Chloe failed to see how it was relevant.
“So?” she asked.
What goes for jellyfish always goes for humans.
Was his response. “For your own safety, I must ask you to immediately return to wherever you’re staying.”
“You’re out here,” Chloe pointed out.
“I was on my way to raise the alarm,” he replied, standing up a little straighter, as though this made him a heroic messenger of great import, and then he walked off towards what looked to Chloe like nothing in particular.
Chloe was left standing there wondering if the man was deluded, if he was messing with her, or if there really was danger.
Or all three.