“Emma, be careful! Don’t yank the stipe off the rock! You’ll kill it. Remember to use the scissors.”, Frank admonished.
Emma was eager to harvest this winter’s kelp. Her quiches were better with this odd sea vegetable.
She was having a tough time keeping her balance with the lantern in one hand and the scissors in the other. All while navigating the slick rocks with no moon to light her way. She switched to nighttime kelp harvesting because tourists kept asking her what she was doing. The downside of living near a popular beach in California.
She was adjusting herself when she saw something large in the water. It was bumping against the rocks. She wished she had had brought a flashlight.
Precariously perched on the largest rock near the unknown object, she lowered her lantern towards it to get a better look.
Her brain didn’t at register what the floating flower pattern meant. A moment later understanding washed over with the realization it was a woman floating face-down! She would have backed up if it didn’t deposit her into the ocean. This was the fourth body, this winter, to wash up. Her enthusiasm for the harvest evaporated with dread replacing it.
‘Please don’t let me know her. Please.’, she pleaded with the universe quietly.
Frank maneuvered his way over to a rock next to Emma. His always-in-motion frame froze with understanding. A groan escaped him.
“It happened again.”, she replied to his response. “Maybe it’s not Rebecca.”
Rebecca was Emma’s longtime friend who disappeared. Her husband reported her missing ten days ago because she didn’t come home one night. The clerks at the local thrift store were the last to see her alive.
She loved her small, safe town that lacked excitement. It changed three months ago. Local women began vanishing and showing up days later on the shore. Dead.
‘Who was hunting us?’, Emma thought, wondering who the serial killer was.