By: Morgan Hannah MacDonald

“I bet he did. The temp rose with the sun. The reading on my dashboard said it was already seventy-five. Good old El Niño at its best.”

“Yeah, I hate this damn humidity. Anyway, he picked up his backpack and found the stiff underneath.”

“I’ll get to him in a minute. Go move the crime scene tape a few hundred more yards. I don’t want anyone near this crime scene.”

“Yes, sir.” Cooper hitched his belt.

“When you’re done with that, get another uniform to stand post with you. The cliffs will keep the rest of the scene private from the gawking eyes of the public.”

Thomas walked over to another uniformed officer, “Hey, James. I want you up at the top of the trail. Don’t let anyone down. Tell them the beach is closed due to a sewage leak. Get the city on the horn and have them bring down some of those signs to set up. We’re going to be here awhile.”

“Yes, sir.” James turned on his heels.

Thomas moved on to inspect the scene. Matt was busy taking photographs. He stood just out of the way. He watched as Sue brushed sand crabs from an arm, then a leg that had been exposed by the angry sea. She kept waving at the flies in an effort to keep them airborne. Flesh dangled from the appendages making the site pretty gruesome. He felt for the poor guy who found her. Civilians weren’t privy to the kind of carnage he had gotten used to over the years.

It took a while for the corpse to be fully uncovered.

Thomas was shooting the shit with Cheryl when they were summoned to review the grisly site in its entirety. Lying on her back was a woman who appeared to be in her early- to mid-thirties. Rigor had come and gone. It was difficult to tell the color of her hair, because it was wet and matted with sand.

Her eyes and lips had been sewn shut with thick black thread. The breasts had been removed and were nowhere in the near vicinity. At least there aren’t any maggots. Yet. If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s maggots, Thomas thought. Matt was busy snapping photographs again. Thomas took out his cell phone and walked down the beach for some privacy before he dialed Captain Harris.

“Looks like we have a serial on our hands,” he said without identifying himself.

“Fuck that. You know damn well we have to have at least three bodies in order to call it a serial killing.”

“There may be only two stiffs we know about, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find he’s been at it awhile. The eyes and lips are sewn shut and the breasts are missing. I bet money we find she was tortured for some time before killed like the last girl.

“There’s bruising around the neck and ligature marks around the wrists and ankles. We won’t know anything else for certain until she’s cleaned up. The sand is moist and clinging pretty heavily. There’s no sign of blood. This is a dump site. So what would you call this, Boss, coincidence?”

“Shit. Look, if I hear one word about a serial killer loose in Orange County, it’ll be your ass. You hear me?”

Then Thomas heard a dial tone.


Meagan McInnis and Godzilla, her Labrador-Newfoundland mix, were also on a beach in San Clemente, this one further north of Trestles. She began this morning as she did each morning, with a quick jog along the shore below her apartment. Her long sleek legs carried her along the water’s edge toward the pier; once there she’d turn around and head home.

Godzilla streaked ahead, his giant paws kicking up sand in his wake. He weaved his way up the beach visiting people or other dogs, or chasing the squirrels that lived in the rocks. Anything to pass the time while he waited for Meagan. Once she passed him, he’d lose interest in his current activity only to find another more promising one up the beach. They played this game of tag every morning without fail.

Meagan had adopted Godzilla from the pound when he’d been just three months old. She’d named him for the tremendous paws that were way out of proportion with his tiny body and the irony of his disposition. He was anything but a monster, but someone knocking on her door late at night wouldn’t know that when she called his name or heard him bark.

She knew he would mature into an enormous dog one day, but she just didn’t know it would be so soon. Godzilla weighed somewhere around a hundred pounds, stood almost to her waist, yet was still shy of his first birthday. He could bowl her over easily, and often did.

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