There: the ground moved. Grey mud shifted and a tiny pair of black eyes appeared amidst the slop. Edgar scooped up the crab, ignoring the ineffectual protestations of its claws and placed it into a hessian sack.
A few steps away, the sea blustered and sprayed foam against the rocks. Edgar bowed his head, his eyes protected from the brine by the low ridge of his brow and his long, unwashed curls of black hair. He examined the mud, seeking more crabs.
In the sack, some of the crabs struggled against the coarse cloth. Others fell docile as soon as they descended into that suffocating darkness. Pincers and shell struck out at each other, spiked legs were broken in the desperation for escape.
But the crabs could not escape any more than Edgar could leave this beach. Walls of bleak, grey rock rose as far as the eye could see; black pebble beaches and winding, labyrinthine paths of ashen sand. And, of course, the vast grey sea that gushed back and forth from here to the very ends of the earth.
Edgar went on scooping crabs out of the primordial sludge in which they lay—not asleep, not awake, simply waiting. Sometimes a sharp edge of shell would prick his skin, but Edgar’s skin had grown rough and he did not bleed. When the sack was full he slung it across one broad shoulder and made his way home, towards the darkly folding cliffs.
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