Even so, there should have been something, some way of knowing. These things emerge out of the mists of the mornings and then are gone, like dreams… or like nightmares.
Julie turned and then turned again. She could hear, or at least, there was a memory of hearing something. The shapes had come out of the thick mist before her, passing along the path she’d walked down towards the beach.
At first she’d spoke, assuming the first one was someone like her, out walking the dog. Then the others had emerged from the mist too.
They were all in black robes, heads down and silent. Julie wondered if it was some sort of religious ceremony or something like that. After all, she was merely a visitor, a tourist. She only had the cottage for this one month in the early spring. It was not far away from Easter, so it was always possible there was some sort of local tradition dating back through the centuries.
Maybe when she got back to the cottage she could – if the cottage Wi-Fi felt up to it – do a search. There were always local historians and many had websites these days.
There were about fifteen or twenty of them in the silent procession, moving down the path in single file.
She looked for Benny; he was a Labrador and therefore assumed every human on the planet existed only to make a fuss of him. She didn’t want the dog meddling in something so solemn.
She almost called out to Benny, but looking down, he was there sitting by her side, looking up at her. He was shivering, a low whine deep in his throat and eyes that seemed to be begging they be somewhere else… now.
Julie shivered and stroked the dog, not sure which of them the stroking was meant to comfort. Benny looked deep into her eyes as though trying to communicate something profound.
She stood and turned. The procession had gone, the mist closing back around it as if it had never been there. It felt like one of those moments when waking in the middle of the night you are not quite sure if you are still dreaming or not, or whether what you just dreamt was no dream at all.
Benny, rather than running off as usual, stayed close. Julie felt the wet pressure of him, the mist making his fur damp, pressing against her leg as they walked on.
Julie looked down and saw her and Benny’s footprints in the damp ground, the light coating of moist mud that delineated the path.
It took her a moment to realise that hers and the dog’s prints were the only ones she could see. The procession of fifteen to twenty people, all of them walking down this same path, had left no trace at all.
It was then that Julie shivered too.