It was always darker in this part of the island. Shera couldn’t figure out why. The sun was almost always shining beautifully. Clouds were rarely seen in the sky. Yet it seemed much darker than in other parts of the little island. A chill breeze blew here that never seemed to come from any general direction.
Shera sat down on a large rock that overlooked the ocean. She had been given the responsibility of keeping watch over the sea. Creatures from the ocean liked to roam onto the land. Certain creatures were not allowed to come ashore. If Shera saw any creature come ashore, she was to report it immediately to the Head Watcher.
The Watchers were a team of islanders that worked at keeping the island safe from the ocean creatures. There had always been Watchers – for thousands of years. Shera was not as experienced as the other Watchers. She was new to the Watcher ways. She was still a trainee, and she still had so many questions. Why was it darker here? What were the creatures lurking beneath the surface of the ocean? Why were they so dangerous?
Shera squinted into the far distance, watching the still, calm waters. There might have been ripples – she wasn’t sure. Then a lone figure rose up from the waters. Shera stared, her breath caught. She had never dreamed that she would see anything at all emerge from the sea. She sat, too stunned to move. The figure had a human form till the waist, and then its body curved out into a tail similar to that of a seahorse. It stood suspended above the water, staring straight at her. It was too far out for her to discern any features of its face. It beckoned to her, slowly curving one hand. Shera stood, pulled by a sudden urge to find out more about the creature. She began to walk, and found herself on the sandy shore of the island coastline. She gazed out at the creature. It began to move closer. It was beautiful. Shera could not believe that anything that beautiful could be harmful.
“Do not come any closer,” the creature spoke, its voice drifting musically towards Shera. Shera stopped dead in her tracks – so to speak. The creature did not move any closer. “Are you a Watcher?” the creature asked.
Shera nodded in awe, not trusting herself to speak.
“You must be new. Any other Watcher would have tried to harm me or kill me by now. This is good – the sea creatures may have a chance for a better future.”
“Better future?” Shera found her voice. “What do you mean?”
“We may be allowed to come onto the shore one day.”
“That is not allowed,” Shera stammered.
“I know. But we have the right to be able to come ashore – it is our island too. It is not fair for us to stay hidden.”
Shera did not understand. “You are forced to stay hidden because you would harm us.”
“Have I harmed you?” The creature paused. “The Watchers are a force created to rule the island with false fear. We will not harm any of you. The Watchers know that.”
“I don’t believe you.” Shera turned to walk away.
The creature spoke again, stopping her. “Speak to the Watchers. They will tell you the truth.”
“What do you want from me?” Shera asked, not sure what the purpose of this was.
“Convince the Watchers to let us come ashore.”
Shera bit her lip. “I can try.” She ran quickly to the Watcher Headquarters. She explained everything quickly to the Head Watcher.
The Head Watcher shook his head firmly. “The creatures are not to be allowed to come ashore.”
“Why?” Shera asked, pressing the issue. “Why? What have they done?”
“What have they done? They are evil creatures, Shera. Do not let the beauty and sweet, musical words fool you. They cannot be allowed to come onto the island. They would destroy it – pull it under the ocean.”
Shera froze in horror. “Then why do you continue to let them live beneath the ocean water? Why have you never tried to drive them away somehow – or destroy their home?”
The Watcher frowned. “I don’t have time to explain this to you. Meet me tomorrow, and I will tell you.”
Shera, however, did not believe the Watcher. She found the creature still waiting in the ocean. She told them that they could come ashore whenever she was Watching. She would not tell anyone. The creature smiled widely. Suddenly the sky lightened up – it was no longer dark. The chilly breeze turned warm. Shera smiled too.
When she explained what she had done to everyone on the island, they believed her a hero. There was no more fear of the evil creatures of the ocean, and the Watchers were forced to stop ruling the island – everything seemed perfect.
Things were too perfect. The sun never set now throughout the whole island– the sky was always clear. It never rained, and the breeze was always stuffy and hot.
The islanders had always been a peaceful kind of people. Now, however, they seemed to become confused about what was right and what was wrong – what was good and what was evil. Fights erupted regularly, and the islanders began to take everything for granted – they were fearless and violent.
Shera realized something was wrong. She found the former Head Watcher and asked him if he knew what was happening. The Head Watcher rested his head in his hands. “You destroyed our island. I told you that was what would happen. The island needed those creatures to be evil. Now there is no evil. If ‘evil’ doesn’t exist, then how do you define ‘good’? If there is no darkness – then what is light? When the islanders had something to fear, they knew what was bad and what was good. With nothing to lose and nothing to fear, they take risks – they care about nothing. They have no leader – and will accept no leader.”
“How can we fix this?” asked Shera in anguish. “This is entirely my fault.”
“You invited the creatures onto the island. You can tell them to return. If they cannot set foot on the island shore, they will show their true colours, and that side of the island will return to the way it used to be. The islanders will be forced to listen to the Watchers again. It may not work – the islanders may remain the way they are – but it’s the only solution I can think of to fix this mess.”
When Shera told the creatures to return to the ocean, they did. They screamed and cursed and turned into horrible ferocious things, but they returned to the ocean. The islanders watched the whole scene, with shivering silence. How had they let such creatures roam their island free?
As the Head Watcher predicted – things began to return to the way they had been. The chill breeze returned, and the sky grew darker. The islanders, however, did not change. They accepted the Watchers as their protectors, but would not follow any of their laws. Finally, the Head Watcher called a meeting. All the Watchers joined forces and erased the memory of the last few weeks from the minds of all the islanders. The islanders reverted back to being pleasant and cheerful, and the Watchers were relieved.
“How did you erase the memories of everyone?” Shera asked the Head Watcher one day.
The Head Watcher smiled slightly. “How long have I been Head Watcher?”
Shera frowned. “For as long as I can remember.”
“Over thousands of years,’ The Head Watcher smiled the same smile Shera had seen on the beautiful creature that had hovered over the ocean waters. “All Watchers go through what you went through, Shera. Watchers become part of the ocean. What did you think the creatures of the ocean were called? We watch over the islanders and make sure they are safe and content. Now you can join us.”