In the morning dawn, it was hard to differentiate between where the river and shoreline met; the grey and brown haze seamlessly blending into each other. As Malcolm and Bill slowly waved the metal detectors over the mud, they listened for the tell-tale signs of metal, ‘We’ve searched everywhere else up and down both sides, it must be here’ Malcolm shouted.
Bill stopped, took off his headphones and began putting them in his bag, ‘It was a local rag from 170 years ago, Malcolm. The wagon might have sunk miles from here’. Malcolm stopped next to Bill, pulled down his headphones so they sat around his neck, and sighed.
The sun was nearly peaking over the hills in the distance, ‘This place will be flooded with dog walkers soon, you know what they’re like. Why don’t we call it a morning and grab some breakfast from the café?’ Bill asked.
Malcolm looked over to where the brown water streamed passed in the distance, then looked down at his wellies, ‘I’ll just try nearer the river, I’ll meet you at the café’
Bill nodded and began to trudge off through the mud towards the coastline, as Malcolm put his headphones back on and began scanning for finds. The first rays of sunlight rose over the hills and blinded him, he pulled his cap down over his eyes and continued scanning the ground when it started to beep.
He ran the scanner over the mud a few times to locate the source of the signal and began rummaging in the mud. He felt something hard and he drew his hand out of the sludge to find a piece of metal. Out of his bag he took a bottle of water and poured it over his find – a brass candlestick. Malcolm smiled to himself and turned to see if Bill was still in view, but he’d already disappeared down the path towards the car park.
Malcolm put the candlestick in his bag and carried on scanning, left, then right, slowly forward, one step at a time. The river was close now and each step was harder as the mud got thicker, then his shoe got stuck; he tried to yank it up, but it held fast. Then his other leg had sunk, within a few seconds he was up to his waist. He twisted and turned, ‘Bill’ he shouted, ‘Bill, help’ he screamed.
A hand grabbed his ankle and he cried in terror. He desperately tried to fling himself forward to find hard ground. The hand gripped harder and began pulling down at his leg. The tide was coming in and the water was so close he could see the sediment of the mud being swirled up and taken out to sea.
Wide eyed, he clawed at the mud trying to haul himself out, but he sank quicker and quicker. Then the hand yanked him backwards hard and he was up to his chest, in the distance he could hear the barking of a dog and the neighing of a horse.
He felt hands around his waist, pulling at his belt, suddenly he was free, panting as shock overtook his body and he began shivering violently. In the mud lay the candlestick, it glistened in the sunlight as a hand grasped it and dragged it down into the darkness.