Harses, Harses on the Beach

If you’re looking for a truly evocative photo for ideas for characters or stories, here’s a fantastic one from writer/photographer Mark Arnold (you can find his sci-fi novella here: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/93948) California’s Central Coast is a treasure trove of photo opportunities, none more so than Morro Bay with its mystifying, mythic Rock looming just off-shore. And being in the right place at the right time doesn’t hurt, either.

Three riders on the beach in front of Morro Rock

Harses, Harses on the Beach

This photo blew me away, especially since Mark took it with his phone camera! He calls it “Harses.” It tells a whole story in itself: the lowering, threatening sky, the huge rock lurking just offshore, the three riders walking their horses at the waterline. One almost feels as though one has moved back in time to the early days of Anglo settlement of the Pacific shores.

But what else can a writer see here besides the Wild West? Perhaps it is because I know Mark writes the most amazing sci-fi, but I wonder about that Rock – or is it a rock? What if it were alive, an alien sea creature lying in wait for unsuspecting riders to wander by? Do the riders sense the danger? Is that why they are walking their horses instead of galloping by as fast as they can?

What kind of monster is this lying in wait? Maybe a creature risen from the depths of the sea, or an alien who crash landed in the ocean. And the shapes on the beach, are they merely clumps of seaweed washed up with the tide, or could they be previous victims of the Rock Creature? Or maybe they are baby rock creatures that have just been hatched and are migrating to the water.

Another look at the photo shows one rider has moved a bit away from the other two. Why?  Is this rider reluctant to accompany the other two? Or perhaps he/she does not want to rider any closer to the hulk in the water.

Who are these riders? They could simply be horse owners or lovers out for an early morning ride. But their motive could be more nefarious. Is one a kidnap victim being taken to a hidden place along the shore? Are they inspecting private property that fronts the ocean with an eye to wresting possession from the rightful owner? Or is this a post-Apocalyptic world and horses are the only transport available?

Are those threatening clouds that fill the sky, a presage of dangerous weather to come? Perhaps the air is merely filled with the misty marine layer that usually greets each summer morning along this shore. But maybe the mist is alive, rising into the air from the surface of the ocean waters, seeking what – Food? Slaves? Victims? As these riders come closer and closer to the Rock, will they merely continue on past it, or find themselves transported through the mists to another dimension? And what will they find there?

Who ever thought an early morning ride could be so story-inspiring?


Words To Write With: Lubricious
Definition: (adj. Lat.) offensively displaying or intended to arouse sexual desire; smooth and slippery with oil or similar substance.
Synonyms: slick, greasy, unctuous
Usage: His lubricious smile made her wish she hadn’t agreed to be alone with him.

About Susan Tuttle

Susan Tuttle is a professional freelance editor, writing instructor and multi-award winning author of 21 books—6 nonfiction on writing (Write It Right), 6 suspense novels and 7 collections of award-winning short stories. She also has stories in both volumes of "Deadlines", the new anthology from the Central Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC), Tales from a Rocky Coast, and the SLO NightWriter anthology. Under the pen name Susan Grace O'Neill, she is the author of the Journey With Jesus series: Lord, Let Me Grow (Parables) vol. 1, and Lord, Let Me Walk (Lent). She is currently working on volume #2 of her Skylark P.I. series (a PI with paranormal abilities), as well as 2 YA fantasy series. And she teaches fiction writing in both the morning and afternoon every Wednesday. Email her if you're interested in joining her class. And follow her on Twitter and FaceBook.