Takada walked along the empty stretch of shoreline looking for sea glass, his coral-colored hoodie the sole point of color as far as he could see. The ocean tried to shrug off the washed out fog that kept its cheek pressed to the earth, but it was a battle it couldn’t win.
He stopped at intervals to let the slow waves bury his feet in cool sand and to listen for the sounds of gulls or passing trawlers, but it seemed the whole world was sleeping in; even the sandpipers refused to come out and play.
After walking for a long stretch, Takada came upon a rope of sorts, a braided silver cord that disappeared beneath the sand at both ends like the Loch Ness Monster. It was thick, maybe a half-inch around, and it wasn’t made from any material he was familiar with; it wasn’t steel, it had a tinge of emerald green to it and not the slightest sign of rust or wear. He picked it up. It was as light as fishing line and as smooth as silk against his hand.
He neatly set down the few pieces of sea glass he’d collected and grabbed the rope with both hands, pulling as he backed up parallel with the shore. He must have backed up 50 yards and the rope kept coming, snaking its way from under the sand like a massive bowl of spaghetti.
And then, out from the clawing fingers of the surf, a splash of orange emerged from the sullen ocean.
Pulling frantically now, hand over fist, metal rope piling up in coils around his ankles, Takada reeled in his find.
It was a parachute.
It was massive. He fought the waves in a tug-of-war, finally achieving a hard fought victory. The chute could have covered a baseball field from home plate to the foul poles. It was in excellent condition, and bore no markings of any kind.
He wondered: where had it come from? How long had it been here? And most of all, what was still buried at the other end of the rope?