Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Tide Comes In

The coastal town of Dunsmore changed forever when the tide flowed in for an entire month. It wasn't as if it rose to a higher level or came in more aggressively, it simply forgot to flow out. The first day found locals enjoying a strange change of pace. By that weekend news reports covering the phenomenon had created a strong increase of tourists. Not long after the news report, smiling fishermen had discovered massive schools of fish forced in by the flow.

During this period the excellent 2nd and 3rd grade teachers at Gregor Elementary broadened their science unit about tides and currents. Soon the students were busy trying to discern the cause behind the unusual tide. Each day they would spend the afternoon at the beach measuring the depth, strength, temperature, and biodiversity of the tide. Children were thrilled to get out in the thick of it and teachers, though tired, were overjoyed at the enthusiasm and focus that outdoor studies encouraged in their students. It seemed just about everyone in Dunsmore liked the new tide.

But the tide always turns. During city council that month the citizens were cheerily discussing the proposal to rename their town Tidemore to further bolster the tourist industry when several cell phone calls came in at once. Even though most of the cells were on vibrate the collective buzzing was loud enough to give pause to the meeting. The tide had turned. And it continued to flow out. For an entire month. Fish populations shrank, the smell of stagnant tide pools drove most locals indoors and all tourists out of city limits. Worse still were the strange stirrings in the dark stagnant pools. Things never seen by humans had washed in during the previous month and were now growing restless in the stinking pools that had been left behind. People stayed away from the beach and only the children wanted to go out to play.

One morning recess the playground supervisors were breaking up another of the increasingly regular altercations when screams pierced the air. Across the playground came a horde of children pursued by a mass of slithering tentacles. Some monster of the deep had pulled itself up from rotting Dunsmore bay, driven, no doubt, by a piercing hunger from having been trapped in the tide pools for nearly a month. It had grabbed four children and was pulling itself down the bank when the custodian, who was mowing the lawn, noticed the horrific sight and drove his mower straight at the creature. Two thick tentacles shuddered as they were severed by the mower. In a spray of black liquid, the creature dropped a third student and heaved itself down into the bay where it, and one poor child, were lost forever in the depths.

As if appeased by this terror, the tide returned that evening. And went out the next morning. The custodian was honored and a commemorative garden was placed at the site of the attack in memory of the missing child. Today in Dunsmore there is a tidal station that monitors the depth, strength, temperature, and especially the biological makeup of the tides around the world. It is manned and woman-ed, in part, by classmates of the lost child who watch carefully for the day when somewhere on the planet the tide forgets to go out.

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