Victor looked at the water pistol in his hand.
“What am I supposed to do with this?”
The electric light buzzed and blinked, then went out.
A distant screech lifted Victor’s gaze. Faint light suffused the horizon sky, waking sleepy hilltops and discovering the wintry grey bark of the bare trees. The pterodactyl soared away, little more than a speck on the vast dawn. Victor stepped out from the toilet block and looked around. The green of the grass and bushes came to life in the brightening light, while birds twittled and tweeted in the trees. The dark night sky receded as pale blue swallowed the stars one by one. Yet the sun had not risen. The light was coming from ground level, and was approaching through the trees. Victor walked toward it; dazzling rays stretched and bent between branches: the light was moving. Brighter and brighter it grew, and then he saw it: a shining ball hovering a metre off the ground, weaving its way forward.
“Oh, yes!” he said, and ran to grab it.
Just before he touched the ball of light it seemed to melt. Instantly the scene around him vanished, and he found himself standing at the peak of an immense sand dune by the sea. Children in swimmers squealed as they boarded makeshift toboggans and launched themselves down the long sandy slope. There were dozens of them. Victor noticed the children were all about his height. A soothing, melodic voice spoke behind him, “Gary, do you want to try sliding down the hill?”
He turned and saw a woman standing there; she was about a foot taller than him. A salty gust swept her hair over her face; she tucked the wavy brown locks behind her ears. She was beautiful. Maybe mid-twenties, with porcelain skin and a kind smile. Her pale green dress rippled in the breeze.
“This boy will let you borrow his board,” she said. “Would you like to have a go?”
Beside her stood a freckled kid with red hair and matching sunburn. He offered his thin wooden board to Victor. Victor looked down and sifted the sand through his toes. He noticed he was wearing swimmers. He shrugged his shoulders.
“Gary?” the woman almost sang. “What do you think? It looks like fun.”
Victor looked up at the woman, who was shielding her eyes with her hand as she stared out across the sand dune to the ocean. She had a sweet, assured smile.
“You look like an angel,” Victor said, without thinking.
The woman turned to bestow her smile upon him. “Well, Gary,” she said. “Do you want to slide down the hill?”
Victor lowered his head. He heard himself say in a meek voice, “I… I don’t know. Arthur said—”
“Oh phooey,” answered the woman. She knelt and raised Victor’s chin with her delicate fingers. Her eyes glowed with maternal affection. “You go ahead and have fun,” she said, brushing the hair from his forehead. She winked. “I won’t tell Arthur if you don’t.”
Victor smiled. The woman kissed his cheek and stood up. He took the board from the freckled boy, and then turned and approached the edge of the slope. It was a long way down. He looked at the woman again. She smiled and nodded. A grin beamed across Victor’s face. He sat on the toboggan and pushed himself forward with his hands. He was away.
He streaked across the sand at speed that, thanks to the ever-present threat of lawsuits, most children today will never know. His hands clenched the rickety handles of the board as whistling wind rushed against his face and peppered his bare chest with stinging grains of sand. Laughter bubbled within him and burst from his lips at full volume. He felt as though he were flying. Under the bright, raging sun he raced all the way down the dune. It levelled out at the bottom, and he skidded from the golden, burning sand to the dark, wet sand, and then skimmed and splashed into the shallow water lapping the beach. He jumped up, his arms pumping with excitement, and turned to look up the sandy Everest; at the top, just a tiny figure, the woman was waving to him.
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