So, this is an excerpt from a project tabled right now and hope to get it done by the first of the year. Enjoy and please, give feedback.
By James Baxter ©2018
“Two possibilities exist; either we are alone in this Universe or we are not.” – Arthur C. Clarke
The rain from tropical storm Daniel cut through the July air sideways like giant liquid bullets, beating down on the tin roof of the bathhouse off the dunes of Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. Jill Blackstone leaned forward to see through the veil of water covering her windshield as she pulled between Sherriff Rick Tate’s car and the Beach Rescue vehicle, both of which had lights flashing through the Summer storm elements. The only thing she hated about living on the coast was the storms but at least this one would keep the crowd away and making this a spectacle. It had been two years since there was a shark attack on these beaches that amounted to more than a small scratch and she knew this one would definitely draw a crowd had the beaches been open.
Covering her head with hood of her bright yellow rain parka, she opened the door of her Lexus RX to see Sherriff Tate awaiting her. Leaning into the door to shut it against the wind, he put his arm around her and the two darted for the bathhouse door through the slicing rain, already being held open by one of Tate’s deputies.
Inside the bathhouse, the concrete floor was soaking wet from the rain water coming through the small ventilation holes at the bottom of the wall and laying on the floor just inside the door was white tarp, covered in blood, draped over what had to be the victim. She looked around the room and saw Sam Frierson, chief of the Georgetown County Beach Rescue Units, and with him, a young partner whom she did not recognize.
“Jesus Sam, they called in the county on this one? You didn’t have anything better to do in this hell storm?” she said, pulling the hood of her parka off her head and letting her long, red hair spill out onto her shoulders.
“Jill,” Sam nodded to greet her. “This one is bad. I haven’t seen one like this ever.” That was saying a lot considering Sam Frierson had been in Beach Rescue most of his life. He began his career as a lifeguard in Myrtle Beach during the Summers of college, studying Marine Science at Coastal Carolina University prior to his short stint as a pararescue airman in the United States Air Force. When he got his discharge from the military, he came back to the coast and began his work in beach rescue and worked his way up to chief of Georgetown County’s unit.
“Well,” she said, taking her rain gear off and handing it to the young rescue worker, she took a pair of latex gloves that Sam was holding out to her. She stretched the gloves over her hands and watched as Sam and his young partner pulled the tarp back.
The victim was a male who appeared to be in his mid-twenties. He was completely nude covered with blood from his wounds. He was missing his right arm, severed just below the shoulder and there were deep tissue injuries that appeared to be bites on his trapezium and along the right sides of his trunk, as well as his thighs. The right side of his neck was completely torn open. The soft tissue damage was extreme in nature, with the carotid artery, as well as the internal and external jugular veins, completely severed. There was an extensive amount of soft tissue missing, as well. In all, there were six of those wounds resembling bite marks on his body, but it was, Jill knew, the ripped open neck and the amputated arm that killed him with the blood loss. Blood loss, she thought. She looked at the blood on the floor surrounding the body and back at the wounds. There are nine to twelve pints of blood in an adult human body; Jill estimated that there was probably less than three or four pints of blood surrounding this corpse.
The younger rescue worker turned quickly away and began dry heaving, trying not to vomit. Sam turned and put his hand on the young man’s back and turned his head to Jill.
“Have you ever seen one this bad?” he asked.
Shaking her head, she began running her hand around the wound on the victim’s shoulder. While the flesh and surrounding tissues were at least four inches from the shoulder line, the amputation was a complete dislocation with the entire bone of the upper arm ripped away, leaving just the cuff of the shoulder along with the remaining tissue. Her fingers traced the jagged lines of the muscle tissue and skin and she unconsciously let out a small “hmmm.”
“What?” Sam asked.
She moved her attention to what appeared to be bite marks, first on the left shoulder and then down the right side of the victim’s torso. The wounds were at least four inches across in width and all were missing large chunks of flesh. She withdrew a small tape measure from her shirt pocket and began measuring the wounds. As she ran her fingers around the edges of each wound she began shaking her head. The wounds at the top of the legs were the same.
She ran her gloved fingers around the injury to the throat. The sternocleidomastoid muscle was ripped apart and jagged on each edge. The same was true for the vessels; they had been ripped apart and the edges were jagged. This was the result of violent trauma. She ran her fingertip over the edges of the wound and noticed a small row of what looked like bite marks just outside the wound edges. They were not as deep, and the skin was torn at the teeth marks. Whoever, or whatever, attacked him went after the neck twice; the first unsuccessful, probably because the victim fought back and pulled away; the second was very successful. This was a deliberate wound.
Her fingers went back to his remaining arm and noted some scratching on the forearm. She turned his arm over to expose the palm and saw the same scratching, along with what appeared to be another bite mark but only superficial.
She pulled out her phone and began positioning herself over the victim to take multiple angle pictures of the wounds. She first photo’d the neck wound and then the shoulder; after that, the bite wounds on the rest of the body. She turned the palm of the intact arm up and took pictures of the scratches and bite mark.
Still squatting down beside the victim, she looked up at Sam. “Sam, where did you guys find him?”
“Well,” he said, “we didn’t actually find him. Sherriff Tate got a call that someone was still out on the beach and sent over a deputy. He found him and called it in.
“Uh, I just assumed it was some crazy ass surfer,” Tate said. “We always get them when these storms roll in. I had no idea…” his words drifted off.
“Have you ID’d him yet?” she asked.
“No,” Tate and Sam responded at the same time.
“No,” Sam said. “The kid was just like this, complete nude and no clothes or belongings in site. I guess you’ll have to get some dentals on him tomorrow.”
“I reckon we’ll have to get some signs up to close the beaches, too,” Tate said. “I mean, I don’t think it will matter until this storm passes but we may as well get them up. Jesus, I know the people are not going to want to hear “shark” during the peak season.”
“Guys,” Jill said, standing to her feet and removing her blood stained gloves. “This was not a shark attack.”
The men all stared at her, perplexed. They’re gaze left hers and drifted to the grotesquely injured body and then back to her.
“But…” Tate started to speak as his eyes went from her to the body and back to her.
“Sherriff, it was not a shark that did this. You see that,” pointing at the amputation. “That was a complete disarticulation, a clean one; that means the arm was completely ripped from the body by force, tearing some very strong ligaments and tendons and that tissue is jagged from being ripped and torn. Something with great force ripped that boy’s arm off. And the surrounding tissue is not consistent with any kind of bites. And those wounds that are bite marks over the rest of his body? The radius on those is not large enough to belong to any shark that would have to be large enough to do the rest of that kind of damage. And the teeth patterns are definitely not shark.
“And the neck? That is a deliberate wound, probably what the killer was going after first and this kid fought back, trying to get away.”
The men stood in awkward silence, surveying the body again and taking in everything that she had just said.
“Well Jill, what kind of teeth do you think it was?” Sam asked, bewildered.
“Sam, I don’t know. They are smaller and very sharp. Like a piranha but bigger.”
The men shook their heads in disbelief.
“And,” she continued, “you see those scratches on his forearm and palm and the bite on his palm? Those are defense wounds, Rick. Whatever or whoever did this, he was trying to fight them off him.”
“Well what are you thinking?” Sam was completely lost for direction, trying to mentally process what she was telling him.
“I’m thinking,” Jill said, looking at Sam and then to Rick Tate, “that we get this kid down to my office and find out who he is and where he came from. That’s the best start. Whatever did this,” pointing at the amputation, “is dangerous and could be loose out there.”
“Jesus, Jill,” Tate exclaimed. He stared at her looking confused and scared. “What the hell do you mean ‘whatever’ did this? It isn’t a shark, you say, so what in the hell do you think it is?”
“Guys, I don’t know.” She shook her head, her gaze going back and forth from Sam to Rick. “What I do know is that it was not a shark and I’m positive that those bite marks are not from a human mouth. So unless you believe in vampires or werewolves, I have no fucking idea what we are dealing with here.”
The rain finally died down later that night. Jill had showered and was walking around in her wife-beater t-shirt and cotton shorts, her hair still wet from the shower. She sipped on her cup of coffee, black, as she gazed out of her bay window overlooking the ocean. They had agreed that Tate and his deputy would take the victim to morgue, her office, and she would begin the ID process in the morning, along with a complete autopsy and official photographs. At Tate’s request and against Sam’s wishes, they also agreed to not say anything about this attack until they had more information.
She looked down at her phone and pressed the button and went to photos, swiping through the pictures she had taken earlier. In all of her years as an ER Trauma physician and her years as a coroner, she had never seen wounds like these. Her mind raced as she let her eyes go back to the ocean. A chill came over her as she wondered what it could have been that attacked that boy. Whatever it was, she thought, was not human. And that was a thought that would keep her awake tonight.