Man the Crab

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10.

Alan awoke to find that he had been asleep, which was often the case. The beach behind him had disappeared over the horizon, and all around him lay nothing but calm blue sea. There was a light gust of wind, which was pushing him slowly onwards, but to where or what Alan could only guess.

About an hour passed. Alan thought it was an hour, but he had no way of telling time; the sun seemed never to move in the sky, and he didn’t have a watch. Presently he noticed a long thin shadow emerging from over the horizon. The shadow looked like land, and a small island soon revealed itself. Alan dipped the oars into the water and rowed towards the island.

There was only a small beach for him to land on, as large and jagged black rocks surrounded the rest of the island. Alan managed to alight on the beach safely, despite the strong currents and substantial waves. On either side of the beach the black rocks cast an eerie shadow. Forwards into a dense forest was the only direction open, so he left the boat and proceeded with caution.

Alan made his way through the forest, the only sound being that of his own footsteps and the rustle of leaves as he brushed past; there was no wind and the treetops were perfectly still. Alan struggled on for a while, climbing over thick roots that jutted out of the ground, making sure not to get too near any plants that looked like they might sting. He only stopped when he heard a distant sound that filled the air around him. He was unable to pinpoint the sound until he saw what was making it.

A wooden harp was resting against a tree a short distance in front of him, playing an ethereal tune. He walked over and picked it up, but when he did so, the music stopped. He strummed the strings and found that whenever he did so, the harp played a different tune, always soft and delicate in its tone. He sat listening to the calming music for a while, until all of a sudden a hood was pulled over his head and he was dragged away, harp in hand.

Alan’s hands and feet were bound and he was thrown on the back of a wagon. For the next few hours he was moved regularly, always with the harp, until he was dumped in a chair and his hood and bindings were removed.

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