We spent yesterday night out by the cliffs keeping watch.
“Best part about kidnapping this one?” Neal said last night as we bunkered down with round three of our fish and chips. “Shorter stake out shifts.”
So I spent my first night on a stakeout!!! It was….super boring. I didn’t see anything. I just sat there, looking out at the ocean all night. It was strange because these cliffs weren’t particularly steep. Like, if you were careful you could scramble the short way down the rocks into the water no problem. These idiots would have had to be actively trying to hurt themselves to die in the fall. Looking at the “cliffs” I thought maybe these guys had made a suicide pact.
None of us saw anything out of the ordinary.
“It makes sense,” Julian said in the morning. It was early, misty and gray. “That we wouldn’t see anything.”
We were all brushing our teeth with bottled water out of the back of the car.
“All the suicides have had witnesses. They’ve all been in the morning or in the evening. Not in the middle of the night.”
“Wish we’d thought of that earlier,” Neal grumbled. His hair was sticking up and his eyes were slightly swollen and I was just getting ready to laugh at him when I saw a jogger running along the edge of the cliff. I might not even have noticed except that his shorts had little reflective patches on the sides.
He jogged along the trail totally casually, and I thought it was sort of weird, but hey maybe he was just super oblivious to the news or something. It was a pretty small town, but whatever I’m from a small town, I know how you can live in blissful ignorance if you want to.
As I watched he seemed to see something over the water. He paused, jogging in place, and then stood very still, staring out at the sea. I saw him take out his ear buds. And then, slowly and intentionally, he walked right over the edge of the cliff.
I screamed. The Hawthornes whipped around to look but obviously there wasn’t anything there. I ran, toothpaste froth still in my mouth. When I got to the edge of the cliff he was still stumbling down the rocks towards the water, despite the fact that he’d clearly broken his leg. It was bent at a strange angle, and he was still putting weight on it, so I could see the bones wobbling around under his skin which was HORRIFYING.
So I’m standing there watching him stumble on down the cliff, trying to decide the best way to go after him, when the wind changes directions and suddenly I can hear something. My brain felt like it was turning into grape jelly.
I guess it was music. Someone was singing out in the water, but I couldn’t quite hear. I can’t really explain it. The only thing on this earth that I wanted was to be closer to that sound.
The Hawthornes figured it out before I did.
“Plug your ears!” Julian shouted.
I heard him and didn’t listen.
“YOUR EARS SHILOH!”
But the only thing on this god forsaken earth that mattered was getting down the rocks to the ocean. I realized only at the very last moment that my foot was hovering over empty air, and just as I felt my stomach drop, felt all the reason I’d been ignoring hit me in the face, Julian caught me.
Both Neal and Julian were shouting wordlessly at the top of their lungs, which would have been funny if I hadn’t been literal moments from toppling down the rocks into the ocean. Julian, bellowing, dumped me unceremoniously into the back of their car.
I lay in the back there, breathing hard. The boys didn’t stop yelling until they’d shut the doors. “What the fuck?” I said.
“Siren,” Neal replied. “Congratulations Shiloh, the little mermaid just tried to kill you.”