The Cove

📅 Published on April 21, 2021

“The Cove”

Written by Lucretia Vastea
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 6.67/10. From 3 votes.
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It was just another hot day in The Cove.

The Watcher was so still, if not for the sweat dripping down his brow, he could have been mistaken for a mannequin. Locals never paid any mind to individuals such as him, though. Outsiders are plenty around these parts and if they don’t leave after 2 or 3 months, they become locals themselves – that’s simply the gist of this place. It becomes either insufferable or kryptonite.

The Cove is not a town, nor is it a village. It can hardly even be described as a neighborhood, seeing how it’s just a straight two-mile road, too narrow to be an avenue, yet too wide to be an alley. What makes The Cove special, though, is that it’s a never-ending bazaar of tricks and trades, gadgets and consumables, necessities and entertainment. The only thing denser than the rows of townhomes on both sides of the road are the tables, counters, and taverns in front of them. In most cases, the open shops are being operated by the very people who live in the buildings behind them, which is another reason why The Cove is such a lovely place to be and shop in. It’s like a never-ending garage sale with a dash of neighborhood party. The bargain is in the blood of almost every descendant of The Cove and so is the love for the community. They always put helping each other out above making profit – in fact, 2 sellers are quite well-known for not having had a penny to their name for several years. They survive by exchanging their skills for food or daily necessities and since both of them are quite talented in their trade, no customer has ever had reason to complain about the peculiarity of their prices. It’s a lovely place to live in. There is no abundance to be found here – no riches or opulence, but very bright colors and joy in the air so vibrant, it’s addictive.

They call it The Cove despite the absence of a water horizon. Even so, it’s nothing short of a secluded piece of heaven for most. Not only that, but it’s hot all day every day, no matter the season. Cooks and craftsmen like to show off their skills under the watchful eye of the potential buyer, be it through the boiling oil they cook their food in, to the hot iron they mold their items from. Nevertheless, search every map ever made, be it old, new, on paper or digital, there is no documentation to be found of the place. Tourists have found The Cove by accident numerous times and they would either decide to stay forever or couldn’t leave the place fast enough. Those who decided to stay would become part of the family. For, that is what the people living in The Cove are to each other: family.

The Watcher, however, is not interested in becoming family with anybody. He would have left days ago if the buddy he drove here with would have given him a heads-up when he left in the middle of the night. The Watcher swore to find the fucker somehow and break his neck, but then, the universe drew a straight line over his priorities.

Her name was Rosalinda. The name was hard to miss because the seamstress was so beloved amongst the locals, she couldn’t walk five feet without having a voice call out to her either for a warm hello or a gift of sorts. It was impossible not to notice her, too. Every smile she offered, every hug, even the sound of her voice, was bottled purity. Even more so, she seemed to glow with light so warm and intense, her entire being was a gravitational core for attention – and, oh, how she attracted. The Watcher postponed leaving The Cove just to observe Rosalinda for a while longer.

And observe, he did. He was watching her open window and the shallow move inside, as the seamstress put her hair up in a messy bun. A slender, caramel arm reached for the window handle to pull it shut and that was the Watcher’s cue to move.

Rosalinda descended from her stuffy apartment onto the busy market with her signature smile. It was an exceptionally hot day in The Cove, but that was not the reason why The Watcher felt the urge to swallow although his mouth was dry. The girl was wearing nothing but a frilly, white bralette and something that looked like a Christmas-themed tablecloth tied around her middle. As usual, she was carrying a straw basket between her right arm and her hip, big enough to fit three times the shopping she was about to make. Safe for the sandals on her feet and the ribbon in her hair, there was absolutely nothing else accessorizing her body. Even so, Rosalinda was easily the most beautiful woman to walk down The Cove and the locals weren’t shy about letting her know.

It was not unusual for Rosalinda to get appreciative whistles or comments as she was walking down the street. She made a habit of acknowledging every single one of them, either with a wave and a grin or a sassy remark, earning herself laughter and enjoyment from more people than The Watcher could count. Good, he thought. This is good. The more attention the others attract to themselves, the better he could camouflage his presence in the crowd.

He was invisible. He would slalom past people, leaving no impression more lasting than the tiles he stepped on.

Rosalinda stilled her pace next to a band of street musicians on their break. There were four of them. A conga player, a guitar player and a player holding a pair of Clave, who also had a pair of Maracas resting against his seat. The singer was a slender, dark-skinned woman whose outfit somehow mirrored Rosalinda’s, but looked a lot more put together and much less happy. She had one leg over the other and her entire head slacked over the fist supporting her jaw.

“What’s wrong, Pao?”

Paola looked up and offered a sad smile to the inquiring girl.

Rosalinda approached the musicians and looked inside the open guitar case which, unlike most days, sported very few coins and a melting lemon mint.

“That won’t get you guys through today, will it…”

Paola shrugged.

“Felipe had an accident. His suspended bathroom cabinet detached from the wall. The mirror inside fell on his left arm.”

Rosalinda’s green eyes grew wide. Felipe was left-handed, which meant, the main hand he was playing his instrument with, was out of order.

“Good Lord, is he okay?”

“Yes. It’ll take a while until his arm recovers, though…”

Rosalinda knew what she meant. The musicians were well-known and cherished in The Cove, but unless for Felipe’s charisma and talent with the trombone, chances that the other four members would make enough money for a meal at the end of the day, were slim.

“Pao, you can still sing!”

“I’ve been singing all morning, but to no use… it’s not the same without him.”

Rosalinda dropped her basket next to the friendly old lady operating the liquor tavern next to the musicians. The seamstress’s hand went straight for the ribbon in her hair.

“Damian! ‘Havana’.”

Damian didn’t need to be asked twice. They would have normally needed a piano for that particular track, but desperate times called for desperate measures. Rosalinda grabbed Paola by the hand and guided her to the middle of the street, earning a gaping crowd of at least ten people before the song even began.

“Follow my lead”, Rosalinda whispered to her friend and brought them both into position before the guitar dictated them to move. The first guitar chords had Rosalinda bend Paola’s upper body in a dip so low, mothers all around were covering the eyes of their children. The two women had the audience in a trance. It was obvious that Rosalinda was leading. She had no problem taking on the role of the man either, twisting Paola’s waist and grabbing her by her arms and legs as if they’ve done the routine thousands of times. It was sloppy in some parts. The two stepped on each other’s feet, sure, but they were so sensual while doing it, nobody noticed. Not even The Watcher. The only men who had the presence of mind to take their eyes off the dancing duo were the instrumentalists, and all three of them were cursing their musical task for depriving them of the spectacle.

The song came to an end. The women finished their dance with the singer’s smooth leg around the seamstress’s waist, both of them panting for air with their faces mere inches apart from each other. The crowd roared. Applause erupted up and down The Cove from men and women alike, but the sound both girls aimed for, the sound they did what they did for, was the one that came after the applause: the sound of coin and paper falling into a guitar case.

Paola grabbed both of Rosalinda’s hands and kissed them.

“Thank you, friend. Truly.”

The green-eyed beauty caressed the singer’s cheek and before they parted, the singer snuck the biggest bill she could find in the guitar case in the seamstress’ basket. Rosalinda tried to refuse it, but Paola began to sing alongside her boys, ignoring her protests with a wink and a wave.

The seamstress was plenty loved by the locals, but that didn’t mean that money wasn’t tight – even for her. She took it, blew the band a kiss farewell and went on her merry way. The Watcher followed.

Merchants, farmers, and manufacturers were calling for Rosalinda from every part of The Cove. Every one of them had an offer especially for her. They weren’t exaggerating either, the prices they were offering their products for, were laughable. But the seamstress kept on walking. She acknowledged the whistles and greeting with cheeky remarks, but nothing deterred her from descending down the road.

Not even an anonymous stalker, watching inconspicuously from a safe distance.

The Watcher thought he was almost found out when the green-eyed beauty suddenly stopped and turned her head to the right. She approached the side of the street cautiously, crouching down somewhere between a stack of papers and a fish market, where two buildings were separated by a narrow path. The Watcher had to pretend to look at the belts and cufflinks out on display on the other side from where the seamstress was, which was the perfect vantage point to see and not be seen.

Rosalinda was talking to a frail-looking boy, no older than 10, sitting on the ground and crying bitterly over a rusty birdcage.

“Papa’s going to kill me…”

“Not if you explain what happened, Benji!”

“He never listens to me. I told him Pierre wasn’t ready. I told him he didn’t master the tricks fully yet.”

The Watcher saw bruises on the boy. Their size and form looked all too familiar to the products he was hiding amongst.

“Do you want me to come along?”, Rosalinda asked. “I can tell him I witnessed the parrot flying away as soon as you opened the cage.”

“And what good will that do?” Benji blew his nose in the sleeve of his sweater. “Papa doesn’t care about Pierre. All he cares about is, what I bring back home.”

And indeed, the melon hat resting upside down by the boy’s frame was completely empty. Rosalinda rummaged through her basket in search of the bill she had gotten from Paola earlier. Benji eyed the bill hungrily. His honest desire of not getting beaten up outweighed his morale, so he kept silent as he watched Rosalinda fold the bill into a paper dove and sneak it into his birdcage.

“That should be enough for today. And you won’t need to worry about tomorrow either.”

Benji hugged Rosalinda as tightly as he could, thanking her profusely between relieved sobs. Rosalinda explored the contents of her basket once more and held out a shiny, red apple for the boy to take.

“Thank you!”, Benji squealed.

The seamstress kissed his forehead, got up and continued her path down The Cove. Benji was just about to bring the apple to his lips when it was yanked out of his hands.

The boy looked up and the first thing he saw, was arms. Powerful arms. Strong arms. Arms made to hit, suffocate, pin down and steal. The Watcher’s gaze followed the shrinking figure of Rosalinda. The man took a bite of Benji’s apple with a crunch so loud, it resonated in the narrow path stretching behind them. Apple juice dripped down The Watcher’s chin as he chewed on the piece of fruit, disregarding the rest of it with a toss so forceful, it hit a brick wall and broke into multiple tiny pieces.

The Watcher didn’t acknowledge Benji at all. He resumed following Rosalinda and didn’t even turn around when he heard the boy get off the ground and run a few feet behind him. Benji wanted to shout. He wanted to stop The Watcher from what he was about to do, apple or no apple. He was worried to his core, but his legs somehow thought better of it.

Benji stopped pursuing The Watcher and just watched as he and Rosalinda went further and further down The Cove – to where the road got less busy and a whole lot darker.

Twenty minutes later, Rosalinda had finally reached her destination: the fabric market. The curtains of fabric and beads were a perfect disguise for The Watcher, as it allowed him to not only keep an eye on the seamstress but also hear the conversations she was having.


An old woman with earlobes hanging to her chin due to years of wearing heavy earrings greeted her from behind the counter.

“Hello there. Are you looking for my granddaughter?”

Rosalinda looked slightly taken aback. The old woman was wearing brightly colored clothes and richly beaded jewelry.

“Why yes, I believe so. You must be Madam Noir.”

The lady laughed.

“My reputation precedes me. Call me Dalia, sweetheart. Any friend of Deidre is a friend of mine.”

The Watcher spied on the women while pretending to look at a carpet. Madam Noir had a snake of pure gold with rubies for eyes, spiraled around her lower right arm and cataracts so dense, her eyes could have been mistaken for marbles of milk. Rosalinda tried studying the fabrics in the presence of the older woman and for the first time that day, The Watcher could tell she felt uneasy. The older woman, on the other hand, seemed delighted by her presence.

“Deidre told me about you.”

“She did?”

“Yes. She told me you’re the one who helped with her sales last winter. The vests you created from those animal skins my granddaughter didn’t know what to do with, were very well crafted. You’re talented, young lady.”

“Thank you, ma’am.”

Madam Noir was in front of the seamstress in a heartbeat. She didn’t bother asking for approval – the old lady’s hands found Rosalinda’s face and were studying her features with intensity and devotion.

“Lord, what a beauty… you must be quite adored amongst men.”

The younger woman giggled.

“Not really, ma’am.”

“Dalia. I insist. May I offer you a reading?”

Rosalinda said nothing.

“Oh, come now, don’t fuss. I’m good at my trade and it’s completely free of charge.”

Madam Noir smiled at Rosalinda and held out her hand. If The Watcher would have known any better, he would have sworn that the moment Rosalinda’s palm found itself in the fortune-teller’s, the red eyes of the golden snake came alight.

No sooner did the fortune-teller touch Rosalinda’s palm with the fingers of her free hand, that her warm smile was replaced by a deep scowl. Madam Noir pressed her wrinkly fingers in Rosalinda’s open hand hard enough to hurt. The old woman let out tiny gasps as she was probing and seeking, shaking her head dismissively in search of a clear picture. Just as Rosalinda wanted to say something, a much younger version of the fortune teller, with clear eyes and small earlobes, came forth from a neighboring booth.

“Linda? Gran, what are you doing?”


Rosalinda looked at Deidre for help. Deidre mirrored her distress.

“Gran, you’re making my friend uncomfortable, please let her go.”

“I see…”

The fortune-teller’s voice trembled and her two-man-audience, three counting The Watcher, forgot how to breathe.

“I see… death.”

Rosalinda paled.


Madam Noir gasped, dismissing her granddaughter’s attempted interference.

“I see death… I see blood. It’s everywhere, it’s… death. The screams, oh… the agonizing screams. Such a terrible, terrible death… alone… damp room… hunger… I can feel the hunger. The animal is here.”

The fortune-teller locked eyes with The Watcher. The Watcher flinched and pulled the carpet he was allegedly studying so hard, he attracted attention to himself from the shop owner and two visitors. Neither Rosalinda nor Deidre noticed the small commotion going on behind them. Deidre was trying to peel her grandmother’s hands off her friend and Rosalinda was trembling from head to toe.

“Don’t mind her, Linda, she… she gets it wrong often, it’s not like… you know. Who knows what she actually saw, she’s surely misinterpreting things. Wouldn’t be the first time, I assure you.”

Madam Noir didn’t pay attention to Deidre enough to correct her. She was too busy staring empty holes into the carpet The Watcher was hiding behind.

Rosalinda pressed her freshly read hand to her chest, looking at the old lady with a mixture of fear and perplexity. Neither of the two women looked in the direction Dalia was, for the old woman was blind, what could she be looking at anyway.


“It’s okay. I’m okay.”

Rosalinda addressed the old woman.

“One makes their own destiny, ma’am. With all due respect for your trade, I don’t believe in omens or predictions. Now, if you’ll excuse me.”

Rosalinda grabbed her basket and turned to leave.

“I’ll come again tomorrow morning, Dee.”

Deidre didn’t try to stop her. She was tactful enough to understand that her friend needed to put some distance between herself and the fortune-teller for the time being. Even though the moving shadow at the carpet tables didn’t go unnoticed, Deidre turned to her grandmother.

“I thought I asked you, not to let them know when you see such things…”

Dalia looked confused.

“But… she’s your friend.”

“And that’s exactly why you should have kept quiet.”

The old fortune-teller hung her head in shame. Deidre hugged her tightly and guided her behind their display of buttons, where they drank tea and talked.

The Watcher resumed his pursuit as soon as he was certain that the aroused suspicion died down. Fortunately for him, Rosalinda didn’t turn to head back home. Quite the contrary, she continued descending down The Cove, where the bazaar turned much less lively and colorful. Tables and displays were getting fewer and fewer and so were the people managing and shopping at them. It was getting more and more difficult for The Watcher to hide in the crowd or behind piles of merchandise, but that was hardly an issue at this point. Judging by the faces of the people Rosalinda and him were passing by, they all looked sickly and weak or just too drunk to be present in any other place other than their inner world. It was like the surroundings were asking for a tragedy.

The seamstress kept walking and The Watcher could not believe his luck. The street turned deserted. Just then, out of the blue, the seamstress turned left between two dark buildings. The Watcher glued his back to the building closest to him and slid along the wall, to sneak a peek at Rosalinda. She had her back to him as she raised her bralette to her face, to wipe the sweat off. The Watcher felt his pants tighten. He snuck a hand into the pant pocket where he kept his hunting knife.

Rosalinda covered herself again and went further down the path between the two buildings, stopping at the fourth window on the right. She looked inside. The window was so low, she was surely staring into a basement or an underground apartment.

“Shoot. Not home, again?”

Rosalinda straightened her back, went down the stairs and into the basement, not bothering to close the door behind her.

The Watcher couldn’t help but smile to himself as he ran to the spot the seamstress disappeared from. The time had come for him to blow his cover. It didn’t matter anymore. He had the girl trapped in a confined, underground place, away from anybody and anything who could jump to her rescue.

It was absolutely perfect and it had been all too easy…

“Stupid girl.”

But just as he rapidly jumped over half of the stairs, he noticed… the seamstress was nowhere to be seen. The bottom of the staircase was drenched in darkness, but even so, he should have been able to catch sight of the back of her head, regardless of how fast she was. The darkness moved.


The Watcher turned with a start. Rosalinda’s leg kicked him straight in the chest and he rolled down the stairs like a bag of stones, hitting his head hard on the concrete beneath.

The movement he saw in the darkness intensified. The entire basement seemed to be moving in waves like the walls were made of black gelatin. The air was vibrating and prickling at the Watcher’s skin who, despite calling to every muscle in his body, remained immobile.

“Rise and shine, children mine.”, Rosalinda cooed.

Eyes. Yellow, hungry eyes opened and glared at The Watcher from every corner of the room, every inch of the walls, every patch on the ceiling. And they were crawling. The Watcher felt like he was inside the world’s biggest spider nest, for that is exactly what these things looked like: spiders. Hairless, 8-legged spiders, varying in size from coin to bulldog.

“You know the drill. Momma needs the skin, both eyes, and 13 vertebrae–”

The yellow eyes were not the only things glowing in the dark anymore. Teeth were bared. Thin, sharp teeth like needles. Millions of them. The Watcher wanted to scream. He wanted to beg, apologize, cry and swear eternal servitude, but all that came out was a gurgle. Blood was pooling around his head in a circle so perfect, it looked like an aura of doom.

“–other than that, enjoy your dinner!”

Rosalinda closed the basement door. The only sound that reached her as she did so, was similar to an industrial meat grinder at work, accompanied by a thin, alarmed whine. She turned around and headed back home, knowing that the very last memory of this world The Watcher took with him in the afterlife, was pain. Excruciating pain. The seamstress smiled at the thought.

As Rosalinda kept on walking, a black parrot flew over her head and dropped something shiny in her basket. It was a golden snake bracelet and it was stained with blood – fresh blood. Madam Noir didn’t give it up without a fight, it seemed, for the bloodstains were almost as bright as the ruby eyes.

“Thanks, Pierre!”, Rosalinda cheered after the bird. Pierre squawked in acknowledgment and resumed his flight back to his 10-year-old master.

Yes. It was just another hot day in The Cove. The ‘n’ at the end is silent, you see.

Rating: 6.67/10. From 3 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Lucretia Vastea
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Lucretia Vastea

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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