Mildly fictionalized. For background, see here and here.

The ocean arches across our vision, dark water blending into dark sky at an unseen horizon. We’ve walked quite a bit from our parked car, eager to get away from the bright floodlights that light up the entrances to the beach. Nature’s putting on her best light show, and it deserves to be seen far from the tepid yellow we humans have managed to shine.

I don’t know nearly enough of sea life to make sense of what’s happening, and frankly, I don’t care. For reasons unasked and not given, the sea is teeming with plankton that glow blue in the night. I remember reading many things about this phenomenon – the causes, the rarity, the harmful effects – but with each wave, all these thoughts are hammered further back in my mind. They seem to react to impact, and each crashing wave ignites all the life in that wave – and we are treated to wave after wave after wave of shining blue foam.

The bursts of light are short-lived, so instead of seeing a constant blue hue, we are treated to a variety of effects. Sometimes the wave hits at one end before the other, and blue light darts across as if trying to outrun the inevitable crash. Sometimes the wave breaches in the middle first, and the blue light seems to dart outward and away. And sometimes, it just happens all at once and the entire sea is aglow.

We stand still, taking it all in, and nature does us one better. All the waves crashing on to the beach have deposited enough of that plankton in the sand. We see that each of our footsteps has just enough impact to light up whatever was beneath our feet at that time. A few shouts of amazement and we start walking every which way, eyes attending the spiderweb of light beneath our feet.

Uncounted minutes go by and with no warning one of us takes off, running as if the devil had his whips on him. There’s maybe half a second before the rest of notice what’s happened. He’s by far the fastest of us, and even with just a half second, it’d take a maniac to catch him now. Wordlessly, the rest of us break into pursuit, dark shapes tearing across the sand. And then, the reason for this mad dash on the beach becomes clear. We’re not taking it easy any more – clean heels and hard landings kick up so much sand in front of us that it looks like our feet are shooting blue sparks as we go.

We don’t keep track of how far we run, or which shape’s who. In the utter darkness the only sounds are our breath and the waves, the only sight the lightning at our feet. Behind us, the sea patiently scrubs the sand clear of our tracks and prepares for its next show.

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