The storm had raged into the evening, but the hurricane changed direction just before hitting land, much to everyone’s relief. There was still some damage caused by the strong wind as well as severe flooding, but it would have been much worse had the Carnies not dug their trenches. The carnival was certainly a mess, with debris and other assorted flotsam strewn everywhere – the grounds had been reduced to mud and deep puddles. However, all of the rides were still intact, as was the sideshow tent despite a few rips here and there. Opening day would certainly have to be delayed, but the public was more than understanding upon consideration of the overhauls that had to be made. Citizens throughout the community were cleaning up and gladly lent a hand to those in need. That same kindness was even extended by those who worked on the boardwalk, as they once again owed thanks to the Carnies. They even kept businesses closed so that they were able to help the carnival in any way they could, and together everyone labored hard to make all necessary repairs in a timely fashion. The importance of the carnival being ready for the upcoming weekend depended on the fact that the temperature was going to be hot, and the hordes of visitors seeking to cool off in the ocean would surely want something to entertain themselves with. The feat was not entirely impossible, particularly since there were so many people willing to pitch in. The most difficult part was what to do about the mud, since it pretty much covered the entire carnival grounds. However, that situation was remedied with wooden pallets as makeshift sidewalks and plenty of straw to soak up the majority of the puddles. It would all dry out when the sun rose the next morning, and in the end, everyone was just thankful to be alive.
There was one thing that weighed heavily on the Carnies’ minds despite the fact the carnival was back in working order—sadness had fallen over the seaside community as a result of the storm. With every last ounce of strength that remained, Sacha had managed to make her way to the tavern on the boardwalk and inform Lance that her husband was missing before she collapsed from exhaustion. Numerous search parties were sent to find him, but they all returned with nothing except long faces. Every inch of sand from the carnival to the docks was scoured in the hopes of at least discovering some clue that the King had survived. Things were becoming grim when there was no trace of him, and though the search continued, many believed they would come across his body sooner or later. Boats patrolled the ocean with divers and nets, unsure if he had been dragged out to sea. Hope slowly faded with each passing hour, though no one wanted to admit their worst fear that the King had perished.
Lance remained by Sacha’s side as she slept, wondering if and when she would wake up. As the days slowly passed, he became even more concerned about what he was going to say once she did. Pacing around the room, he processed all of the information that he had received throughout the day, trying to figure out the best way to break the news. The problem was that he had little data for his cousin on the whereabouts of her husband, even though there were plenty of tired bodies ensuring the search continued.
Sacha stirred in her sleep, perhaps due to whatever she happen to be dreaming about, but soon she was at peace once again. However, that was something Lance desperately wished for, a heavy sigh escaping as fingers slipped through his hair and weary eyes were fixed on the ceiling. As the whiskey burned its way towards his otherwise empty stomach, his heart seemed to have been excited by something, the quickened pulse causing perspiration to accumulate on his forehead. Sandy feet and a missing pair of shoes offered little explanation, while memory failed in excess when he attempted to recollect the time that had just passed. Only a few moments ago it was early afternoon, and in the span of what felt like nothing at all, evening had descended upon the ocean side community. Lance had been both surprised and confused by the glowing numbers of the clock across the room. Then came discovery of the missing shoes and sand between his toes, the cuffs of his blue denim jeans damped with salt water, which suggested that he might have taken a walk on the beach. Lance was almost certain that he had remained at his bedside post, and just perhaps had fallen asleep for a while. There could be no other explanation for the lack of shoes though, or the obvious evidence that glared at him when his gaze was lowered to the floor.
Rising from the chair, he decided to get some fresh air in the hope that it would stir his memory. The evening was rather charming, the shadowy sky full of twinkling stars and a glowing moon. In the distance the ocean rumbled, and the lights from the carnival were prominent against the otherwise black atmosphere. With numerous thoughts churning through his head, Lance could not prevent paranoia from turning them negative. Even though it was grim to entertain the fantasy that his half-brother could very well be floating somewhere in the brine, convincing himself otherwise had become a daunting task. He struggled to focus on anything else in order to keep such visions out of his mind, centering instead on trying to figure out where the hell his shoes went. It was not the most important issue, but it was the least stressful and would serve as a momentary distraction.
Slowly wandering down the beach, Lance’s eyes adjusted to the darkness, and with the assistance of the moon, he searched for some trace of the suspiciously absent footwear. For a moment, his presence on that sandy shore felt oddly familiar, as though he had just been there despite the fact he did not remember the event. As the cool ocean slipped over his bare feet, there was a strange calmness the swelled through his body, silencing the racing thoughts and replacing them with serene comfort. Nothing else mattered as he continued to stare out at the vast expanse of ocean that stretched into infinity. The whole reason for being there in the first place no longer held importance, ankles being sucked into the damp sand as the waves continuously raced towards him before retreating once again. Instead his mind became fixated on a single and very imperative task, his body reacting through instinct as it guided him further away from the house. Even the responsibility of watching over Sacha was secondary to the mission that needed to be completed.
Several hours later, Lance pried his eyes open, the sunlight streaming into the room having roused him from a disturbing and very realistic dream.