“Come on man, you can’t go to the beach looking like that.”
Standing at his front door, Ersan Ilyasova shrugged. “You know, temperatures by the lakefront can be up to ten degrees colder than temperatures in the urban core. And if it is breezy, I do not want to get chilly.”
Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez, wearing outfits of swimming trunks and tank tops, exchanged a confused glance. “Dude, I know we don’t have a rapport as teammates yet, but you’re pale as hell,” Robin said. “Some sun would do you good. You look like a vampire.”
“Haha, yeah, a vampire,” Ersan replied humorlessly.
“Well, if you’re committed to your layered hoodies and your sweatpants, you could at least invest in a more stylish pair of shades,” Brook said.
Ersan drew his hood closer to his face so that his bulky, face-covering sunglasses were less apparent. “My eyes are extremely sensitive to sunlight. You’re lucky I agreed to this at all.”
“You sure you’re not too hot, man?” Brook asked as he returned from his impromptu sand-volleyball game with a group of enthusiastic, drunk Milwaukeeans. Ersan was lying on a beach towel directly in the sun, and his gray sweatpants were darkened with sweat.
“I’m good,” Ersan replied, even though he was definitely not good at all. He felt like he was being baked in an oven. Why had he consented to a fun day at the beach with his teammates when he knew that exposing his skin to sunlight was completely out of the question? “I should be asking you if you’re too cold from the wind coming off the lake. Maybe you want to borrow one of my hoodies.”
Brook was dripping with sweat from his physical exertion and attracting lustful gazes from the many bikini-clad women scattered on the beach around them. “No thanks.”
Giannis Antetotokounmpo, arriving late to the gathering, walked up to them and regarded Ersan’s appearance with amusement. “Well, at least your wife won’t thinking that you trying to pick up womens.” His girlfriend giggled at this comment. “I bringing smoothies,” he continued, taking off his backpack and unzipping it to reveal a large collection of bottles filled with multicolored drinks. “You want, Ersan?”
Ersan shook his head. “Not thirsty, but thanks.” This was another lie; he was extremely thirsty, and the thought of cold, blended fruit running down his parched throat nearly caused him to involuntarily shudder. But he couldn’t let anybody know that he was suffering under his layers of clothes, or they might try to remove them by force. He turned his sight away from his teammates as they happily drank Giannis’ homemade smoothies, but he could still hear their sighs of refreshment, and that was almost worse.
When Giannis, Robin, and Brook headed off into the surf (mostly to just stand around in the water and collect more attention from attractive young women), Ersan stayed behind on his towel, wishing that the intermittent clouds floating in the sky would, if even for a moment, obstruct the sun enough to give him some respite from its burning rays. He wondered how soon he could depart the group without seeming like he was ducking out early. It had probably only been thirty minutes and he already felt near death.
Now his teammates were coming back in his direction, having had enough aquatic fun. He noticed that Sterling Brown was also walking towards them from across the beach, holding a newly-bought swimsuit and sunglasses.
“These guys said you needed some UV-protection sunglasses,” Sterling said. “Try them on!”
“I’m happy with my current pair of sunglasses.” Ersan replied, tightening the drawstrings on his hood until his cheeks were entirely hidden. “And I’m not going to go swimming, so I don’t need those shorts either.” But his refusals of the new apparel were ignored, and he felt hands on him, trying to unzip his hoodie. He could hear their laughter, and all Ersan could think to himself was how they wouldn’t be laughing at all if they knew how dire the situation was about to become.
The hoodie was soon removed despite Ersan’s protests and struggles. But the worst was yet to come: an unknown teammate’s hand grabbed his sunglasses and ripped them off his face.
“NOOOO! MY EYES!!!” Ersan yelled, clamping his hands over his sun-exposed eyes. But it was too late; he could feel his eyeballs smoldering and melting in their sockets. Quickly unhanded by shocked teammates, he fell to his knees in agony. Even when the sunglasses were put back on his face, the sickening transformation could not be reversed.
Ersan could feel his bones turning to mush as his skin dripped off his body like wax. The pain, previously so intense, ceased as his nerves fell apart. Soon, his consciousness itself was snuffed out by the disintegration of his brain. His final fleeting thought was that he was getting his clothes soggy with his liquefied organs.
Robin looked at the puddle of human goop that was dispersing into the sand. “Told you he was a vampire.”
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