The Santaurs

Prompt Day #138: Opening Scenario: A character discovers something you’d never expect to uncover in the sand.


The Santaurs


The last thing Frank remembered was the kids burying him in the sand. Lying down in the warmth of the sun, he’d fallen asleep. It was the sudden drop and subsequent thud that woke him up. He was inside what appeared to be a medieval tunnel. A pile of sand covered him and blocked much of the passageway behind him. The orange wavering light gave the impression of movement.

Frank sat up. He estimated the height of the tunnel was no more than four feet. He wouldn’t be able to stand. He looked up, searching for the hole he’d feel through. It was part of the column of sand that had covered him now, there were no signs of sunlight peeking in. The width of the burrow was just slightly more than that of Frank’s shoulders. In order to get mobile and get out of this place, he’d need to get his legs underneath him. This would require some degree of flexibility that Frank hadn’t utilized since his high school wrestling days.

He had just managed to work his knees around his middle-aged paunch when he heard a skittering noise coming towards him. The sounds echoed off the walls making it difficult to ascertain the number of newcomers. He crawled towards the noise, curious as to what creatures resided in sand tunnels beneath the beach. The sounds of the approach intensified and he could now make out shapes in the distance.

Children? It certainly appeared to be a few small children coming at him. He looked around again at the smooth walled, well excavated tunnel complete with burning torches embedded in the sandy sidewalls. It couldn’t be children. The closer they came, he saw that the child part was only from the torso up. He couldn’t make out any feet, their back sides trailed behind them.

It was difficult to get into a defensive posture on hands and knees, so he straightened up on his knees and put his hands on his hips. These little mutant children might be freaky but he could take them. He spread his knees apart as they approached instinctively enlarging himself. Their shadows elongated horizontally behind them and was he seeing antennae coming from their very human heads? The skittering noise grew loud and the shadows on the wall more defined. The creatures currently approaching him were half little men and half ant. Was there even such a thing in mythology? He knew about Minotaurs and Centaurs but what would you call these little guy? Antaurs? Or Santaurs since they lived in the sand. He chuckled at his witticism.

He wasn’t afraid of ants. He could easily manage them. He would just need them to get him back to the surface. Clearly they had tunnels spread out all over the under-beach. There were three now standing in front of him. He held a hand up in greeting.

“Hello there. I seem to have accidentally fallen into your uh tunnel system here. I was wondering if you could direct me to the way back to the surface?” He said nonchalantly as if he spoke to Santaurs every day.

“You will come with us, human” The assumed leader of the group said. He sounded like one of the munchkins from the Wizard of Oz. Frank couldn’t control his laughter.

“Listen guys, you are really cute and all and hey, you may even be the symptoms of sun stroke now that I think about it but I’m only coming with you if you are taking me back up there.” He winked and pointed up.

“Our queen is ready for fertilization. You will come with us. You have been proven fertile.” The leader’s right hand ant said. Frank really was trying to be respectful of these little guys but he choked back a guffaw and wiped tears from his eyes.

“Is she hot?” then he laughed again “Seriously though, you realize this whole thing is made of sand, right? Now I am trying to be nice but I could easily just stand up and punch through to the surface. I’d hate to do that and ruin your tunnel any more than I already did back there. But I will if I have to. I have no interest in fertilizing your queen.”

“You will come with us.” The leader said as the two flanking Santaurs came around their chief. The soldiers turned and presented their bulbous backsides to Frank. Before he realized what was happening they shot a stream of sour smelling liquid onto his legs.

The pain was instantaneous and the smell of the acid working to melt away Frank’s lower limbs was nauseating. His screams echoed down the hall. More of the little entomological freaks appeared and advanced towards him. His flesh fell in searing glops onto the sandy floor as they lifted what was left of his body above their heads and carted him off to meet his destiny.