• Elliot Harper

A Brief interlude

“It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed."

- Charles Darwin


“I may know a few guys.”

I glance at Joel to see if he’s joking or not. His comment sounded like something straight out of a Quentin Tarantino movie. I’m having Pulp Fiction flashbacks. (I’m sending the Wolf...) He looks deadly serious though. Or as serious as he can be when he’s windswept and soaked to the bone. I nod gravely. “Good, good. That’s exactly what we need. A few guys. How many?” He thinks this over for a few moments while we drudge along the sand. I leave him to it. I don’t want to distract him while he’s thinking, but it’s not just that. The wind has picked up again. So much so that I need to concentrate on the task at hand.

The forecast had said it was going to be sunny and pleasant, but that doesn’t mean shit on the North East Coast of England. A pleasant day can turn to an unpleasant one at the drop of a hat. Today is one of those days. I zip my jacket right up to the top. It’s a fragile thing. A ten-year-old green windbreaker that does anything but break the wind (did I just say that?) It provides the minimum level of protection. In my defence, I didn’t know the weather was going to turn this bad. This feels like the middle of winter to me. Or maybe I’ve gone soft? Perhaps the Houston heat has left me unprepared for the cold biting winds of the North.

“Two, plus me and you.” The wind picks up right at that moment, so I use my hood as a shield and look at him. He has zipped his leather jacket up as well, even though it looks like it provides better protection it’s not the right garment for this weather. “Who?” His reply comes quickly. “Sammy and Michael. You know Sammy. He can do the sound. Michael can do the photography.” As soon as he’s finished, he flinches as rain splashes into his eyes. The weather has really turned now. “How long will it take?” This time he thinks it over for a while before answering.

We walk in silence, leaving only impressions in the sand which disappear behind us. Each step lost forever. He speaks, but I don’t catch it. The increasing strength of the wind has upset the North Sea. She rages next to us. I glance at the dark waters with a little fear. What have I done to offend her? Does she know that I left Scarborough? That was a long time ago, but I bet she has a long memory. He speaks again, but this time I catch his words. “I said, a couple of weeks. A month tops!” I give him a thumbs-up rather than try and speak over the noise of the sea. I’d return the gesture, but there is no way I’m pulling my hands out of my pockets.

We trudge on for a while longer. I leave him to his thoughts while I occasionally wonder why we don’t just head to the concrete path only a few metres away to the right. It’s a good question. Why don’t we use that path? It's human-made. It’ll be more comfortable than hiking through the soggy sand of the North Bay. I’m about to tell him that we should retreat to the safety of the path when the wind suddenly lessens. I would be more relieved if it wasn’t for the rain, but you have to take what you can get. “What kind of things do you want in it?” I frown at his question and then remember what we are talking about. I speak from the relative safety of my hood. “Blair Witch stuff. Shaky cam. Make it as dark as possible. I want to creep people out. Disturb them if we can help it” He laughs. “Like Fincher?” I smile. “Yeah, shit like that! Make it look like it’s something you aren’t supposed to be seeing. Like it wasn’t meant to be there, and we found a tape on the floor in some dodgy derelict crack house. A bit like the Ring. Fucked up basically.”

Collaboration is a new thing for me. Writing is a solitary business. Most of the time it’s just me in a room typing on a computer. But if I want to make a splash with my novella then I need to really go all in. No messing around. Having a trailer is an excellent way of getting some attention. Set the tone. Show that I’m serious. Luckily for me I know Joel, have done since I was five, he’s been involved in this kind of thing for years. So, here I am. Walking along the contemptuous Scarborough beach with the hard wind and rain in my face discussing a promo video for my book.

“I get what you mean! Like an underground guerrilla campaign. Something like that.” That’s precisely what I mean. I’m about to say just that when the wind suddenly picks up once more. It gusts and nearly blows me off my feet. The icy air fills my hood. My socks feel like they are filled with water. Wearing Vans was the wrong choice. Joel is wearing brogues which is an even worse one. I try and hide the grimace on my face and force a smile.

Joel doesn’t look like he is faring any better than me. His leather jacket looks soaked through. I call us to a stop. I have to scream my reply. “Hold on, hold on. We can’t continue like this. This weather is ridiculous!” He shouts a retort, possibly deservedly mocking me for my capitulation, but it’s absorbed into the gale, transported to another part of the beach. I point to the safety of the road. At first, he shakes his head in defiance, stands his ground with a playful smile, putting his back to the path. My back, on the other hand, is to the North Sea, a risky game, but I have no other choice. Hopefully, she will be kind for once. I’m about to make my argument when I see Joel’s eyes widen in terror. Before I can fully comprehend what’s happening, he turns on his heels and sprints towards the road at full pelt, kicking up sand in his wake.

I don’t wait to find out why and begin to sprint. Each step plunges deep into the sand, meaning I have to forcefully pull my foot from the cloying depths. I dare not look back. I just face the road and run as hard as my lanky frame will allow. I’m at a decent pace despite the sand. I can see the road directly in front of me. It’s just above a small grassy mound. My legs jar slightly as I hit the solid surface. I nearly fall but right myself in time to straighten up and stumble onto the concrete. I feel and hear a great deal of water splash behind me. I jog a few more steps and turn around. The beach looks clear now, but I can see the tide rushing back to her watery embrace. An almighty wave.

The North Sea made her presence felt in the only way she knew how. I sigh. We were lucky. I turn to Joel, who is silently panting beside me. There is a decent coffee place just across the road. He points towards it and smiles. I nod my head and laugh. We slowly walk towards our destination in silence, both lost in our thoughts on the fragility of the human condition when faced against the awesome power of nature. I snort. “The fucking North Sea. She can be a bitch when she wants to be.” Joel nods gravely and grins. “Aye, she can be. She can be.”

A bloke with a ginger beard who writes.



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