The Cursed Arm of Driftwood Beach

The Cursed Arm of Driftwood Beach by Cora BuhlertA disembodied arm terrifies a seaside town…

Strange things keep happening in the permanently fog shrouded seaside town of Hallowind Cove, earning it the nickname “Harbour of the Weird”.

When a beachcomber finds a giant wooden arm on the beach, the people of Hallowind Cove are excited about a new addition to the town museum’s collection.

But the wooden arm has a mind of its own – and the tendency to go walkabout by night…

This is a short story of 2400 words or approximately 10 pages in the Hallowind Cove series, but may be read as a standalone.

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More information:

  • The Cursed Arm of Driftwood Beach is a short story of 2400 words or approximately 10 print pages. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
  • The Cursed Arm of Driftwood Beach is the sequel to The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock, a story I originally wrote for a shared world project, which fell through. Eventually, I removed all links to the shared world setting and published the story as a standalone. However, the mysterious seaside town of Hallowind Cove had potential and I always intended to use it again some day, should the right idea come along.
  • The right idea eventually came along, while I was doing the 2016 July short story challenge, where the aim was to write a short story per day in July 2016. One day in July, I took a day trip to the port city of Bremerhaven and found myself wandering around the so-called museum harbour, the exterior exhibition grounds of the German maritime museum, which holds exhibits (up to and including entire historical ships) too big for the museum proper. One of this exterior exhibits is Seemannsarm (sailor’s arm), a sculpture by artist Stephan Balkenhol, in the form of a giant (it’s 5.7 meters long) wooden arm (see a photo I took of the sculpture here). I’d seen the sculpture several times before, but that day I suddenly found myself wondering what if the arm was alive? And what if it’s not happy about being kept in a museum, but instead wants to return to its body?
  • Don Holcomb, Hallowind Cove’s leading beachcomber was named for Don, the Beachcomber, creator of Tiki restaurants.
  • There really are hotspots where a lot of flotsam and jetsam lands, such as the Dutch island of Texel.
  • The various flotsam and jetsam that Don found on Driftwood Beach over the years are all based on objects that really washed ashore on beaches throughout Europe and North America. And yes, whenever a large number of shoes wash ashore somewhere, it’s always only left or right shoes, partly due to current effects and partly, because left and right shoes are sometimes transported in separate containers to prevent theft.
  • The gutta-percha plates from Indonesia are a reference to the mysterious Tjipetir blocks, which have been appearing on European beaches over the past couple of years. They were eventually traced to a Japanese freighter sunk in WWI. Gutta-percha is a natural rubber material from South East Asia that was once used to isolate ocean cables as well as for several other uses.
  • The great rubber duck spill of ’92 is a reference to this case, which coincidentally also inspired the story Operation: Rubber Ducky.
  • The characters of Paul MacQuarie, Old Hank and Hugo the raven all appeared in The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock. The Cursed Arm of Driftwood Beach also introduces several other inhabitants of Hallowind Cove, some of whom I hope to revisit some day.
  • The cover is a crawing by Nitropen.
  • The original cover was a photo I took of the sculpture at the Bremerhaven maritime museum, cut out and superimposed on a pebble background.