Sandman(2)By: Morgan Hannah MacDonald
Within seconds he found himself about fifty feet from where he’d left his gear. Before him lay a blanket of black that appeared to be moving. “What the fuck?” He hesitated, waiting for the synapses in his brain to start firing, before taking another step.
When he found no logical explanation, he gently rested his board on the sand and made his way closer until he stood directly in front of the sight. His hand cupped his nose. The stench reminded him of hard-boiled eggs gone bad. Very very bad.
Okay, strike the moving blanket crack. It was more like a black cloud hovering over his belongings. Flies. He had an inkling that it was not the seaweed they found interesting. Something dead had washed up on shore and he was less than eager to find out what it was. His mind conjured up a few possibilities; a seagull, a fish, a seal? Whatever it was, it would not be pretty no matter how long it had been dead.
Slowly, he reached down to pick up his sweater with one hand, while the other reached for the strap on his backpack. His actions were no more cautious than if he were lifting a bomb.
The flies swarmed up for a brief moment, just long enough to reveal their prey, before settling back down into a dark writhing carpet.
An unintelligible sound escaped his lips. He gasped for air while instinctively taking a step back. He’d seen some hairy things in his life, but nothing even close to this. Icy fingers of fear raced up his spine, his heartbeat hammering in his chest.
Sean couldn’t look away even if he had wanted to. Some strange fascination took hold of his brain and wouldn’t let go. Systematically his mind dissected the grisly scene before him.
Sticking out of the rolling mound of seaweed was a woman’s arm, stiff as a mannequin’s, extending skyward as if reaching to him for help. The mottled blue hand wore long red fingernails, two of which had been broken down to the quick. Seaweed was wrapped around her arm like a feather boa.
Sean’s gaze then locked onto another object protruding from the sandy grave. A leg severed mid-thigh, but closer inspection revealed it was really half-buried. It too appeared tangled in the bubbly brown vegetation.
The foot, like the hand, wore a shock of bright red polish on its perfectly manicured toes, clashing with the bluish pallor of the flesh. His eyes grew wide at the sight of flies and sand crabs greedily devouring the soft tissue. He choked back bile.
The spell was broken.
Sean stepped backward so fast he tripped over his own feet and landed on his butt. He scrambled up and raced toward the shore. He couldn’t get away fast enough. He reached the water’s edge before collapsing to his hands and knees. His insides lurched so hard that he thought he would spew his stomach lining. Dry heaves continued long after his stomach had emptied. He collapsed on the sand, exhausted. A wave washed over him, but he hardly noticed.
Homicide Detective J.J. Thomas woke from his coma-like-sleep to mass confusion. The ringing phone dueled with the incessant shrilling of his alarm, and the combination hit his head like a ton of bricks. He glanced at the clock a mere second before swatting it off the nightstand in an effort to quell the infernal noise. No such luck. At least he could quiet one of the offending devices without actually having to get out of bed.
He snatched the receiver. “What!”
“You think you’re on vacation or something?” the captain bellowed in his ear. Thomas winced. He wished he would lower his voice to a dull roar. “Jesus Christ, Thomas, Carla’s been trying to reach you for the last fifteen minutes since dispatch failed. You know how hysterical she gets, she was ready to call in the National Guard. Now get your lazy ass down to Trestles Beach. I trust you know where that is?”
“Yeah, be there in twenty,” Thomas grunted.
“Make it ten!” The line went dead.
Why the fuck does the captain always feel compelled to bust my balls? Does he think the corpse is going to just get up and walk away?
Thomas rarely had the luxury of an entire night’s sleep, so, given that he had made it until seven-twenty, he considered himself lucky. Throwing back the covers, he swung his legs off the side of the bed, and sat up quickly. Too quickly. Instantly his hands flew up to his temples in an attempt at keeping his head from exploding all together.
▶ Also By Morgan Hannah MacDonald
- · Sandman