"The hand, when I first saw it, was lying among the rocks, was half-covered by sand, and looked like
a bit of whitish rubber." . . .
ROY AND KAY AT OCEAN
BEGINNING OF HORROR STORY
It began, I suppose, with the dead seal, but at the time we were not impressed with its significance. Roy found it one morning, lying on the sand slightly above the level of the tide and there was nothing noteworthy about it other than some curious white blotches on the hide ... and these might have been caused by aging or by some disease. It was a minor nuisance at best and Roy settled it by calling a county officer to arrange for its disposal. It was, although none of us knew at the time, only the beginning.
The next few days passed quietly enough, each of us preoccupied with his or her own affairs until the weekend. We arrived at the beach shortly after noon and spent the rest of the day loitering about. Roy and Kay went swimming, and I walked along the beach while Bunty napped upstairs. It was a quiet afternoon no different, I suppose, than hundreds of others, and certainly there was nothing to warn of the horror that was to come. Nothing, at least, unless my beach discovery is considered as such ... for on the beach I found a hand.
Oddly enough, I did not recognize it at first. Roy and Kay had swam out to the float and I walked restlessly along the sand, a few gulls sailed overhead, and it was pleasant in the warm sun ... a good sea was running and sand had piled up, covering an area of rocks that had been exposed on my last visit. The sand at that point had a curiously pale sheen that caused me to turn and look again. It was almost as if a film had been drawn over it.
The hand, when I first saw it, was lying among the rocks, half-covered by sand, and looked like nothing more than a bit of whitish rubber. It drew my attention briefly, but I did not know what it was, so I walked on. Several minutes later I paced back along the sand and the hand now lay revealed . . . lying on its back with the fingers half-doubled as if grasping at something. Still not believing what my eyes told me, I turned it over with my toe. Instantly, the fingers contracted, and I sprang back, heart clenching in my chest. After that contraction it lay as it had, doubled now into a fist, a hard white fist that was definitely a hand, yet unlike any hand I had ever seen before.
Glancing around quickly, I looked to see if my instinctive reaction had drawn attention, but nobody seemed to have noticed, so I turned and walked back up the beach. Roy and Kay were leaving the water so we went inside together, and I said nothing of what had occurred ... there are things that cannot be explained, things that if unseen by others are better left untold, and I had no desire to be considered insane. At the same time it was possible the muscles had contracted through some action of heat or cold ... yet the fact remained that the hand was there, and where a hand was a body must be. Had I stumbled upon the sole indication of a murder?
As the afternoon passed we dressed and went out for dinner and by the time we returned it was quite dark. I went out on the sun deck and looked down the beach, yet the area where the hand had been lying was now covered by water, and in the morning whatever it was would be gone. Little did I realize how much would happen before it was again light, nor did I guess that when the light returned nothing would be the same, nothing at all.
Standing alone upon the sun deck I looked out over the dark waters at a distant light . . . some fishing boat, no doubt,
- End of Fragment -
BEAU L'AMOUR'S COMMENTS: Okay! This is a good example of what makes Louis L'Amour's Lost Treasures so much fun! What in the world was Louis thinking? What kind of story was this intended to be? Horror or science fiction, no doubt but ... wow!
This is nowhere near the strangest thing Louis ever wrote and the good part is that we have considerably more information, notes, additional pages and journal entries about the more atypical material contained in the Lost Treasures books. But I wish I had just one scrap more information about this one!