As dawn broke on the beach, a new large rock appeared amongst the black whinstone boulders. A sperm whale had swum on a collision course with the coast and lay dead on the sand.
Early walkers came out, warmed by fleecy coats and woolly hats; a labrador kept pace with its strolling owner; a trio of fluffy dogs bobbed on leads behind theirs. Everything was as normal until someone noticed the whale.
From that moment the peace of the village was shattered. Hoards of disaster tourists appeared, drawn in as if by some invisible force of nature. By noon, areas were cordoned off and officers of every marine agency prowled the sands in luminous vests, bold lettering announcing their role. Who would think that someone entited ‘Marine Mammal Vet’ could reach those distant shores within such a short time, as if the country were full of such expert individuals waiting half a lifetime for a dehydrated specimen to come along? However they had been spirited up, these fluorescent Lilliputians fussed round the domed head of the roped-off Gulliver.
The whale’s demise became a national news story far outweighing its twenty tons. Speculation regarding the reason for its stranding was rife, as if the retrospective attention could resurrect the beast. Theories included magnetic fields, sunspot activity, naval sonar and fluctuation in sea temperature.
As the week progressed the whale slowly disappeared. Tooth thieves came by night, as if it had left one out under its sandy pillow in the hope of fairy reward. In the light of this crime, security was increased and the jawbone removed by the authorities before it became a trophy arch. Soon, perhaps to pre-empt a raid by greedy corset makers, the knackers’ van was seen parked up the road, and pieces of whale were driven away.
A new dawn broke. The whinstone rocks ruled alone again, and the stench in the sea air was only of seaweed. Early walkers came out, and the trio of fluffy dogs bobbed along the promenade, and normality returned. But everyone still felt sad about the whale.