The surface of the sandpit is a plastic Pompeii, towering dinosaurs and green army men frozen in time, synthetic scales and polymer rifles coated not in ash but mason sand.
Beneath their fighting forms Brian finds other fossilised flotsam, metal models of minotaurs, dragons and winged horses. Myths scattered in the sand like a pantheon lost to the underworld. He drops them in a garden pail with the other toys. The sound of them hitting the base of the bucket is like a death knell.
A slow, silent excavation. He scoops out the sand and sifts through it with the patience of a gold-panning prospector.
Digging deeper he uncovers a grow-in-water robot, with enough water for its head to balloon, like a deformed subterranean survivor of a nuclear apocalypse.
But the first thing he recognises is a cracked walkie-talkie, antennae bent, with the buttons caked stiff. He cradles it in his hands for a moment before gently placing it in the bucket.
The pit is almost empty now.
He uncovers an air-tight muesli bar moulding next to broken sunglasses, and a bubble pipe nestled against a beach bucket, all in the sights of a water gun, its barrel and chamber clogged. A weapon rendered useless.
And at the bottom of the box, he finds a porcelain doll head webbed with cracks, an heirloom from his grandmother, and a canine-buried bone grooved with bite marks.
Last of all he finds a rainbow friendship bracelet, another once-treasure, its colours long faded.