It was exactly what you’d expect from a town so originally named. ‘Sand’ was sandy. Built alongside a sandy cove, called ‘Sandy Cove’, a bay that offered no real protection, but was the right distance to set up a way point between two more important places. It had a long history of not really being anything. It was sand, sand and mangroves. Sand and sedimentary rock: sandstone. It had a general store – ‘Sand General Store’ which alleged it had a liquor license, not that anyone would check. It had a Central school, which you already know the name of, that offered so little choice, that students took the sweet blessing of schooling elsewhere. Few returned, but enough that it had maintained a stable, albeit small, population for the length of its uneventful history. The uniform was light brown.
There was not much to do, aside from primary industry of primary industry. The sand gets boring, especially for young minds, and there is only so much exploring one can do of the mangrove groves.
As is inevitable, things were found to occupy, and in this case, the old idiom ‘an idle brain is the devil’s workshop’ became literal, and one morning, a pensioner, out for his beachside morning stroll, happened upon the remains of a pentagram, drawn in sand, half washed away by the tide. He promptly died from a heart attack. It was probably less the remains of the pentagram, and more the remains of a goat, dismembered and eviscerated, bloodied and poorly burnt by a fire clearly not hot enough to consume flesh.
Rumours spread quickly, as they do in a small town. And the culprits, meant to be alleged, but that’s not how small towns work, were identified. A town meeting was called. No ink was spilled, but many a word wasted, to no conclusion. They were used to the petty vandalism, coming in waves, the bored frustration that so often had an outlet in minor misdemeanours, but this, this was something else. A different beast entirely.
The next ritual appeared to be more successful – the pentagram drawn above the high tide mark, the fire, still smouldering the following morning, built from more than just small drift wood and barely dried mangrove. Bones remained, and the memory for those that heard the long, drawn out scream the night before.
The two was officially rattled. There was talk of bringing the law in, or at least asking for advice. Maybe even a neighbourhood watch.
The teacher, a temporary appointment, because no one lasted long out there, was concerned. She was new enough to teaching that she felt she could still make a difference, and new enough to the town that she was still loosely entertaining the idea that it could be a home. She knew that it was her students who had been identified as the likely culprits. She knew that she would share any blame, with her new-fangled ideas and her big city mind set. This was neither fair, nor true, her hometown had been of the rural sort, larger, admittedly, and less sandy. Neither of which was difficult. She was determined to put a stop to this nonsense. She had a stern talk to the students.
She had no success.
There was a false sense of achievement when two months passed without incident, but it would seem that they were merely stockpiling wood. A pyre, a proper, or mostly proper, pyre was built, on which, as far as could be determined, a variety of animals had been burnt, most likely alive from the evening’s noise.
She’d had enough. She called her old mentor, a battle hardened teacher, from an old payphone at the back of the General Store – the only landline that worked.
“What do I do?” She asked. Her mentor had listened patiently, without interruption to the story.
“Pentagrams?” She’d asked.
There was a short laugh, not quite joyless. “Call them what they are. They’ll stop.”
“What they are?”
So she did.
And it worked.