Excerpt from A Different TideDarren still had zombies on the brain when they had set out with theirbuckets and shovels for the beach. He had paid for his disobedience with a rathervivid nightmare, but he didn’t care. As far as he was concerned, he was old enoughto watch any scary movie out there. He needed things like that to toughen him up forthe day when he would someday be a man. He suspected Byron might have hadnightmares too, but neither of them had chosen to share such things with the other.Darren didn’t want Byron thinking he was a pussy, and Byron no doubt felt the sameway about him. The flats were dotted with tidal pools and the mud squelched beneath theirboots as they searched for the holes in the sand that were the telltale sign of clamshidden below. Darren noted that the tidal pools looked particularly cloudy that day,the silt within greyer than normal, but that wasn’t that uncommon a couple days aftera storm, and there had been a doozy earlier that week. He also detected a slight oilysheen on their surface. Perhaps a motorboat had overturned and/or had sunk duringthe gale force winds and rough waters, emptying the contents of its gas tank into theocean. He had seen such things happen before.“Over here!” Byron yelled, pointing at a patch of mud littered with a multitudeof tiny holes. Sometimes the holes led to the tunneling sea worms that were okay tocollect for bait, but were otherwise useless. Finding them, instead of clams, afterdigging down a certain distance, was always disappointing. Usually, however, anarea this big, bearing this many holes, was a good sign it would be clams below andnot worms.Darren and Byron chatted happily together as they dug, their conversationstarting with talk about girls, and eventually veering off to a discussion of the moviethey had secretly watched the night before. Remembering some of the most violentscenes made Darren’s blood run cold, particularly one involving a zombie chewing upone of the lesser characters’ faces. They laughed when they talked about thatmoment in the film, but it was more of a posturing thing, trying to prove theirbravado, the laughter nervous. The conversation came to an abrupt end as theyreached a sizable collection of clams. With a celebratory shout of triumph, the twoboys began to load up their buckets, digging off to the sides as they cleared the placewhere they had started.It wasn’t very long before their buckets were brimming with clams and liftingtheir harvest up from the sand, the two boys turned to start towards home.Something, however, caught the corner of Darren’s eye, some unexpected movementthat seemed out of place. He glanced over at its source, something he had assumedwas an oddly shaped chunk of driftwood, draped in drying seaweed and bleached bythe sun.