“It’s not cheating,” I said to myself. “I came out here for digital detox, and I’m doing that. I just need a video camera, that’s all.”

More towers of rocks had appeared overnight on the beach, but the high winds had scoured away any footprints in the loose sand and they would have been lost in all the prints I’d left knocking them down in any event. The gate was still locked, and I couldn’t see any tire tracks.

A little video was all I needed to prove my suspicion that some local good ‘ole boys were having some cheaper-than-basic-cable fun with me.

Setting up my laptop just right and getting the recording settings for its built-in webcam took some time, and I found myself moving in a haze of wandering focus. I could have used my cell phone, I suppose, but that would have required improvising a stand and scaring up an extension cord. When I looked up at the kitchen clock, I’d spent longer on the thing than I had thought. But it would be worth it for my peace of mind, to finally know that the “mystery” of the stacked rocks that Oscar had warned me not to concern myself with.

The webcam ran perfectly, and I’d set it to change to a special low-light mode at dusk. Satisfied, I turned back to the kitchen to gab a snack. Instead, I instinctively backed against the opposite wall in a panic.

Drawers had been emptied, cupboards ransacked, and the resulting detritus piled throughout the kitchen. Piled just like the rocks, as much as different shape and texture would allow. Deeply engrossed in my digital cheating, I hadn’t heard a thing.

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