The first time I went to the beach I found a locket with my picture inside.
I remember walking on the damp sand just out of reach from the incoming waves. The tide was low. The deep blue saltwater hissed and foamed on the shore before returning to the ocean. An old lifeguard stand was directly behind me with a sign that read SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK. A skull and crossbones had been graffitied over the top of the letters. I had already found one kitten paw shell and was searching for another when the gold oval caught me off guard.
“Uh, Clark. Come here,” I said as I reached down and pulled the locket from the sand.
“What’s that?” my brother replied.
“Some kind of necklace. Looks old.”
“We should turn it in.”
“To who? The beach police?” my brother said laughing.
“You know there are police who keep the beach safe. That’s actually a thing,” I replied.
“Yeah, okay. Good one. Are there ocean police too? To catch pirates?”
“Yes. The Navy. It’s called the Navy. You’re hopeless,” I said returning my focus to the locket. “So, what should we do?”
“Have you opened it yet?”
“No, that feels wrong.”
“You gotta find out whose it is. Maybe it’s someone on the beach and we can find them from their picture.”
I wiped the remaining sand grains from the locket’s ornate indentions and held it closer to my face. The gold chain hung down below my elbow. After inspecting the locking mechanism I popped the locket open.
“What the…” I screamed. The locket fell back into the sand. My brother grabbed my shoulders.
“Was that a picture of you?” he asked.
“I think so,” I replied, voice shaking.
“Is that your locket?”
“I’ve never seen it before.”
“I don’t know. Let’s get the others and go talk to the police.”
We went back to the condo and found the rest of the family. Mom and dad were off visiting some high school friends for the night so I was left in charge. After catching them up on the events with the locket, we loaded up and went to the police station. I’m sure it looked suspicious when five sunburnt midwesterners walked in together. The station used to be a Radioshack in an outlet mall. The sticky remnants from the old adhesive logo remained on the window. I think we reached max occupancy when we squeezed inside. The officer at the front desk greeted us. His glasses were thick and his hair a thin grey like a fine tip paint brush.
“Can I help you?” he asked before we were all in the door.
“I’m not sure how to explain it really,” I replied.
“Then I’m not sure I can help really.” He went back to looking over the sheets of paper.
“I found a locket that’s not mine, but my picture’s inside.”
“Well, now that’s interesting.” He pulled his glasses off his face and used them to motion to our group. We were all inside now. “Are you sure it’s not one of these hooligans pulling your leg?” Everyone stiffened up at the accusation. They shook their heads and kept quiet.
“It wasn’t them, sir. They’ve never seen this locket before either.”
“Let me take a look at it,” he said as he extended his hand. I placed the locket in his palm. “Tell me more. Where did you find it? The beach?”
“Uh, yeah. Less than a mile from here. Right on the edge of the water. How did you know?”
He stood and leaned forward on his desk. We leaned in to meet him. He lowered his voice and spoke with reverence.
“Excuse me?” I replied.
“Most people here don’t believe it, but those of us who’ve been here longest know it’s true,” he continued. “There have been legends of people seeing light pooling just under the surface. It’s believed that these are holes in time.”
“Holes in time?” I interrupted.
“Let the man talk,” Clark insisted.
“Holes in time. That’s right. It’s localized time travel. On the other side of the light is a different place in time, but the same place in space. Make sense?”
“What? No that doesn’t make sense. I think we’ve heard enough. Thank you for your help,” I said before turning to walk out. “Let’s get out of here.”
“It still doesn't make sense,” I said. We were finishing lunch in the condo. The rest of our group watched T.V. while finishing their pizza. They had lost interest or were too spooked by the police officer.
“How else can you explain the locket? The time pores have to play a part in it,” Clark concluded.
“Time pores? Really? Not only is that the lamest name I've ever heard, it's the most ridiculous theory in the history of ridiculous conspiracies. Time travel isn't real.”
“Think about it though. If time travel were real, how could it exist and have the least impact?”
“If time travel exists in a small circle of light at random times and it only takes the things in that circle and moves them to a different time, but keeps it all in the same physical space, no one would notice that this part of the ocean is actually from the future. Or that this part of sand is actually past sand. No one would know!”
“Fine. I'll play along. Let's Google it and see if we find anything.”
“Great idea, sis.”
I pulled out my phone and Clark pulled his chair next to mine. “What should I search? Time travel on the beach?”
“Oh, come on. You’re not even trying. You gotta be more specific. Search ‘time pores new nauset bay’ or something.”
I typed in the exact words and hit search. After scrolling past local watch shops and beauty products we found a random blog with the headline TIME PORES REAL. SHOCKING EVIDENCE. YOU WON’T BELIEVE YOUR EYES.
“Oh look, click on that one.”
“Seriously, Clark? Do you click on every article with headlines like that?”
“What? They’re always interesting. And they’re right, I never believe number seven,” he said with a laugh. “Just click it. It’s our only lead.”
The page took awhile to load, so, about three seconds, and had clearly not been updated for at least a decade. The font was small and the text ran off the screen. Lime green hyperlinks littered the header and sidebar. The mouse icon was an alien head.
“This is terrible,” I said.
“We’re not here to give a web design award, we’re here for the content. For the time pores. What does it say?”
“It’s so hard to read. Is this...no. No, it can’t be.”
“What? What is it?”
“If you’re not going to actually read it, then give it here,” Clark said.
“Fine by me, please, take it. It’s hurting my eyes.”
“Whatever,” Clark said as he began scrolling through the article. “Interesting.”
“Let me finish.”
“Come on, just tell me.”
“Okay okay. Well, this person says they have seen a time pore in real life. They didn’t have a camera with them. It was ninety-seven. But, they do have pictures that other people sent in. Check this out.” Clark zoomed in on a dark image of what I assumed to be the ocean. “See that circle of light down there?”
“That little thing?”
“Yeah. Time pore.”
“I think that’s just the moon’s reflection.”
“Huh?” Clark pulled the phone back into his line of sight. “No way.”
“I’m not convinced,” I replied.
“How about this? It says time pores can create a portal into the past or future. Sometimes it’s just one day, sometimes it’s a million years.”
“How do they know?”
“It also says time pores usually open during the perigean spring tide, when the Moon and Sun are in line. Their combined gravity makes the tide higher. It says something about a full moon. Quick, let’s check if tonight’s a full moon.” Clark was standing now. It looked like his excitement was about to overtake him. “Wait, promise if it’s a full moon tonight we’re going hunting for time pores.”
“Fine,” I relented. “What does it say?” Clark took a moment to search moon phases in our area. His eruption jolted the T.V. viewers out of their daze.
“Yes! Woo hoo! We’re going hunting tonight. Full moon baby. See you all on the beach at Sundown. I gotta go get ready.” Clark said as he tossed me my phone and ran to his room.
“What was that about,” someone said from the living room.
“Looks like we’re going to the beach tonight.” I said as I pulled the locket from my pocket and opened it again. The picture looked recent. Super creepy. I shut it almost immediately.
Hopefully we’ll get some answers tonight.
Doubt it though.
The Sun had just touched the ocean when we arrived on the sandy shore. The pastel purples and blues painted the sky in broad strokes. We walked down the boardwalk. People gave us curious stares since we were the only group making our way toward the beach. Once we arrived, we found a spot and set up our chairs.
“Well, we’re here,” I said to Clark. “Now what?”
“What do you mean now what? Now we wait,” he replied. “Keep your eyes peeled for a bright light in the ocean.”
“Yeah, sure. You got it,” I replied. “We should probably move our chairs up a bit. The tide is higher than yesterday.”
“Told you!” He shouted. “It’s the perigean tide. It’s all adding up. It’s happening.”
“Just help me with these chairs.”
After we hauled our things to safety, Clark ran off toward the edge of the water and looked out over the sea like it was the Grand Canyon. The rest of our group played catch with a football or took pictures in front of the setting sun. I sat on my chair, pulled out my headlamp, and started reading.
I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I remember is Clark yelling and shining a flashlight in my face.
“It’s happening. The light. The light. In front of the lifeguard stand with the skull. Come on. Wake up. Come on.”
“What time is it?”
“Who cares?” Clark insisted. “There’s a time pore over here. Come on.”
Clark’s yelling and flashlight waving woke up the rest of our group and while rubbing eyes and stretching spines we followed our leader into the ocean. The foamy saltwater tickled our ankles as we came closer to the light.
“Everyone, turn of your flashlights,” Clark said.
Once the battery powered lights were switched off, an organic light radiated beneath the surface of the water. We circled the light and leaned over with hopes to catch a glimpse of the mystery inside.
“Is this really…” I couldn’t finish.
“A time pore,” Clark said. “It’s real.”
“I don’t know. What does that matter, anyway? It’s real and it’s here. Isn’t that enough?”
“I guess,” I replied. “But how do we know it’s time travel?”
“I’m going in,” Clark said. “I have to do this.”
“Okay, first of all. No you’re not. Second of all, this isn’t some movie. You don’t have to go in there.”
“I’m doing it. You can’t stop me.”
“I don’t need to stop you. Just think about it, wise guy. If this really is localized time travel, you could come out on the other side and be a thousand years in the past. You think you could survive out here without Walmart and the internet? I doubt it.”
“Yeah, well,” Clark said before changing the subject. “We have to do something. We have to try some kind of experiment. Should I just stick my hand in it?”
“What good is that going to do? You can’t see with your hand.”
“Okay, I’ll just stick my head in. Hold my legs.”
“Well, we gotta take our picture next to it. Do you have your phone?”
“Yeah,” I said. I took a few steps back and pulled my phone out. “Ready?”
“Wait, everyone act like you’re looking into the time pore,” Clark said.
“You don’t have to act. Just do it.” I replied. “One, two, three…” I took the photo and rejoined the group.
“No one is going to believe this,” Clark said. The light from the time pore illuminated his smiling face.
“Well, now what?” I asked.
“Oh, I got it, let’s drop something in there.” Clark reached down into the water and pulled up a tan seashell the size of his palm. “Ready?” he said as he held it above the light.
“Go for it,” I replied. He dropped it into the light and the shell disappeared. “Well, that wasn’t nearly as exciting as I thought it would be.”
“I wonder where it went,” Clark said with a starry-eyed look on his face.
“It’s going to be really hard to track it anyway. Do you even remember what it looked like?”
“Uh, it had a hole in it. I think it was brown?”
“We need something more memorable,” I replied. After looking around for a moment we had a simultaneous epiphany. “The locket,” we said in unison.
“Do you have it still?”
“Yeah, it’s right here,” I said as I pulled it out of my pocket.
“Well, drop it in there.”
“Okay, give me a second. Jeez.” I opened the clasp one more time to look at my picture. I’m happy to get rid of this thing because it still totally creeps me out. I held my hand over the light and let the locket dangle.
“Well, I don’t know if we’ll ever know if this time pore thing is really time travel, but, for what it’s worth, I’m glad to get rid of this thing.”
“What’re you waiting for then, drop it.”
I opened my hand and the golden oval fell into the light.
Moments later the light faded.
And I haven’t been to the beach since.