What Made The Sand

Odin Halvorson


The ocean, its surface mirror-still, was hiding many bones.

No boats or ships trailed the cool diamond water of this ocean. No birds flew through the amber skies. The water was so clear that anyone looking down from above would have seen the shapes moving far below. What few landmasses there were lay tucked far away to the East, far enough that they might as well have been another world.

There had once been visitors to the place - creatures clad in gossamer suits of silver hue, their eyes like golden wasps. But no more. No people wandered these waves. No people looked out across the glittering crystal to spy the far off shore.

What remained of those people who had visited this world could be seen in the night skies sometimes, had there been anyone to look. Little bursts of fire in the darkness; ancient hulking wreckage vaporizing upon entry into the atmosphere, blazing like meteors against the velvet shadows of this silent world.

Those visitors hoped to find prosperity and peace; they hoped to find serenity amid the placid oceans and neutral woodlands of the sparse yet verdant archipelagos. Instead they had met only others of their kind. Of those two groups, neither was truly different from the other. Desires, hungers, joys and pains--all the same. They burned themselves to ashes, scattering themselves across the jewel they had hoped to claim, long before a one of them had even breathed the air.


Below, where the light spiked from the surface and cast all things with an eerie light, something moved. The pointed legs of a small pink crab, scuttling sideways, left an echo on the hull of an ancient vessel from the stars. A pitted ruin, claimed by this underwater realm and its creatures, covered over with the foundations and sprawling nests of life.

Weeds tangled their way through every pockmarked opening of the long-crashed vessel--whole fields of gently swaying flora. And amid the weeds, fish. Billions of tiny forms flitting this way and that, exploring; life thriving in the alien world nature reclaimed.

The pink crab slowed, hopped from the surface of the ancient ship, and set out daintily across the dim ocean floor, kicking up little spots of silt. An eel watched it from a short distance away, weighing the satisfying crunch of crab against the dangers of leaving the charred fissure where it made its home. Its eyes glittered from the crack in the starship’s hull, small brain thinking thoughts that no visitor to this world had ever cared to guess.

And there was something else.

Inside the wreck - deep inside, where a pocket of air still held sway, there was a room with an occupant long forsaken by all but the passage of time. Splintered and inert, this occupant reclined against the graying paint peeling from the wall. A ribcage canvassed with lichen, sockets home to tiny colonies of pebble-sized crustacea. Smaller pieces scattered - tiny bones shaken loose through the long decay.

By the skeleton’s side a small book sat, bound in alien fibers, pages wrinkled and yellowing. Inside, drawings and scribbled notes dominated each page. At the very end, a letter, penned when the skeleton had been a living thing. No one but the author, in all of space and time, would ever read that letter or know the one who penned it to the page.

Outside the room a trail of bubbles had been spilling from a nearly invisible crack in the bulkhead for many days. Seeping. Leaking. Searching for a way to finish what the crash had long ago begun.

Days passed, and a thin sweat moistened the walls of the skeleton’s room. The fungi on the corpse flourished and spread.

Then, all at once, with little warning, the water came crashing in. The room was filled in minutes. The ink of the small book ran when the water reached it, spilling out into the torrent, painting the water black as night in a slowly-expanding cloud.

The bones on the floor were picked up by the rushing current and scattered in all directions. Some would later end up inside fish. Others would wait quietly for eons, as the passage of time eroded them away.

When, some thousand years hence, new visitors would arrive at this world, marvelling at its placid beauty...only then would some sign be found. A bone, or two, preserved by lucky chance. And the wreck would remain, of course, for such a thing passes more slowly than the lives of fish or man. Though one day it, too, would disperse into the world, becoming one with silt and sand.

Odin Halvorson is a writer, philosopher, and filmmaker, based in California's Northern Bay Area, where he works as the director of the Pacific Zen Institute's Audio­/Video department. Odin has had two short stories published in anthologies released by Enso Publishing. He is also the author of three poetry chapbooks.