End of chapter 1:
“Why on earth do you need to be hidden,” I hissed, “What’s going on?”
“I…I…I’ve seen it,” she was clearly startled,” Hurry! Look sharp. Lock the doors, close the windows and draw the curtains…”
We sit in absolute silence for a few moments before I ask, “What did you see?”
Outside, I can hear the wind getting more stormy and more vicious. Even though she hasn’t answered, I still have an idea of what she might say: ‘I saw the Zebramander.’ I’m correct. She claims to have spotted the Zebramander.
Fifteen minutes later we are outside in the moonlight retracing Cleo’s footsteps. Yes, I know what you are thinking, I should’ve stayed all nice and warm in my bed, with a roasting fire comforting me. All I can say is that Cleo, as that is her name, is one of the most persistent people I ever met, so she somehow got me out of my bed. The sea huffs gusts of sea-spray, sand and wind. I here the rumbling of thunder and crackling of distant lightning. The rocks cast shadows of doom in the moonlight.
On the way, we pass by Multi Fish Rulers, Carla’s sea-side drink bar and Mrs Cherry’s Everything you will need for a beach day’ shop. They all have driftwood planks and seaweed to fill in the gaps plastered onto the walls, prepared for the incoming storm of sadness. The promenade is empty, apart from the few stragglers who are rushing to get away.
Cleo drags me to the shoreline and then I see it, footprints in the sand. Claw marks on the rocks. The sea bites at the shore, gobbling it up. Together, we follow the footprints, trying not to smash the icy silence. Then, from nowhere, we hear a sound made by someone, or something.
Hardly daring to make a sound, we tiptoed towards the doors of the ‘Blue Reef’ theatre. Peering inside we saw an odd-shaped shadow lumbering away from us. Another sound, like teeth clamping together and the patter of hooves. Was something there?
As silently as possible, Cleo edges forwards, but I stay where I am, watching her. Shivering with fear, I notice something huddled near the door to a theatre. Something crouches as life-like as a zebra. The smell is dreadful. It drifts up my nose mingled with the scent of popcorn. In an instant, it thuds towards Cleo.
Outside, thunder pulses like a heartbeat and lightning flashes, sending danger. Inside, a sudden flash lights up the theatre lobby. The Zebramander crouches in a gloomy corner, that pulses with light and then its dark, pulse of light, darkness. Then, it bounds to a door, broken by the storm. It hurries away into the darkness, but it pauses. Staring at us with emerald eyes and its mouth showing us daggers. Then, it dives back into the crumbling white horses.