She washed up along the beach, her body contorted in the most unusual position. Her black hair was stringy and death discolored her skin. If she would have known it would have been her last week on Earth, she would have done things differently: told her family she loved them, apologized for wrongs. But no one knows when the end will come, do they?
The waves touched her skin repeatedly. The beach was quiet as the sun was beginning to rise, the purples and pinks dancing on the horizon. Maybe someone would find her, discover that she was missing, and soon her family would be crying from the news.
The seagulls called out to one another. They had found their morning meal, something to peck away at before the fresh meat rotted. Thank God Terra was beyond feeling because she surely would have gone mad at the constant barrage of beaks on her skin.
“Oh my fucking God.”
Daron Moore thought he was going crazy, that the alcohol from a hard night of partying was still in his system. He blinked, but the girl was still there. All of his roommates were back in the guest house, still asleep. He had wanted some fresh air, needed to get away from the smell of stale sweat and came upon this. He did a jig back and forth, placing his hand to his mouth, his head, his hip. What the fuck, he thought. He couldn’t think straight. If he had been thinking straight, he would have known to go back to get help.
He looked at the girl again. She couldn’t have been much older than him, her body naked. He couldn’t help but notice her ample breasts. At a moment like that, that was the last thing he should have been thinking of. Especially on a dead woman. Who did this shit? he wondered, still pacing back and forth on the sand. He touched his pockets, instinctively reaching for his cell phone.
“Damn. I left it back at the house.”
He stared along the beach, hoping someone else was around, that someone else would come along this scene and knock some sense into him, tell him that he was mad, that there was no body there. But there was no one else along the shore. Only him. And her. Her green eyes seemed to be staring at him…staring through him. Eyes the color of the water. He knew he would have to leave the girl there, but he didn’t want to. What if she washed away, carried by the waves back to the sea?
Oh, my Lord. I’m going to have to move her away from the water.
Daron bent over, his six-feet-six inches looking like some sort of awkward geometric form. He could smell the salt water all around them. Then it hit him, the horrid, awful stench of death. He couldn’t bring himself to touch her and could feel the insides of his stomach heave, threatening to come up. What the hell? he thought. I gotta move her. If I don’t and she washes back in the sea, they’re gonna think I’m crazy.
Finally, he made a feeble attempt to reach for her fingers, which slipped through his hands. He breathed in deeply and reached again, this time connecting with the dead form. The skin was hard from rigor…rigor… He couldn’t remember what they called it and began to think of all those times he had vegged out during biology class.
She was relatively small and her body moved easily this time and Daron sighed from relief, watching her legs leave a trail along the sand. There were no signs of trauma—no bullets, no knife wounds, no blood. There was no way for him to know that she had been strangled after being violently raped. All the fluids had been washed away by the salty water.
Terra, in the next realm, was thinking of this stranger who had just moved her body to safety, far away from the touch of the water. She could feel ghost whispers of the pounding her body received as she remembered how her killer went in and out of the crevices of her privates. She could vaguely see his evil grimace as sweat poured off him and fell on her neck, her face. She remembered his grunts as he went back and forth above her. She looked away from her contorted body, not wanting to recall what happened.
She saw the black boy as he sat on the sand, still in shock from his discovery. A peaceful walk during the morning was turning into a huge ordeal. She could understand why he wasn’t going to get help yet. We don’t always react like we should when we find ourselves faced with an unusual situation, especially something like finding a dead body. Yeah, we think we would be calm, cool and collected if faced with the unthinkable, but most of the time we aren’t. Terra found that out the hard way.
“Who the fuck did this?” Daron asked the empty beach. The only answer came from the laps of the water as they hit the shore. “Let me go get help.”
He finally came to his senses and began to make the jog back to the beach house, which had to be a quarter mile from where he found the body. The sun had already come up and was beating down on him. Out of breath, he barged into the house and looked around, trying to see if someone was up.
“Yo, Bobby!” he called, waiting for an answer from his roommate. Nothing. “Seth!”
Again nothing. Damn. They’re still drunk as shit, he thought. They can’t hear a damn thing.
He ran up the marbled steps, his tennis shoes smacking the stone and making noises in the silent, expensive resort. He went straight for their room, shaking Bobby violently.
“What the fuck is wrong with you, D?” Bobby said, throwing his arms up to shield himself from his friend’s hands.
“Someone…someone is on the beach. She’s dead, Bobby.”
Bobby rolled away from Daron and hugged his pillow. He must have thought it was some sort of prank. He was used to Daron and his pranks. He closed his blue eyes and ignored his roommate. If Daron hadn’t drunk all those shots, Bobby probably would have taken him a little more seriously. Daron popped him.
“Yo, if you do that shit one more time, I’m going to whop your ass.”
Daron hit him again and Bobby sat up, prepared to lunge.
“I’m not kidding, Bobby. There’s a girl on the beach. She got black hair and she’s our age. Come on. I’ll show you.”
Bobby looked at him like he had been using drugs or going crazy, but Daron brushed it off. When Bobby saw the body, he would be vindicated. Bobby better apologize for getting ready to start some shit, Daron thought, while Bobby was calling their other housemates.
All five of them made the trek to the beach as questions reverberated around them. Who was she? How did she get there? Who would do something like that? Beach Glacier was a private beach. Only a few people had access to it. Did someone from their area kill the girl? Had she been killed somewhere else and her body traveled the expanse of the ocean, only to land there?
Mitch would have to call his parents and let them know what was going down. But he wanted to see if it was a joke before he made the unwelcome call.
“Daron, if this is some sort of joke, it ain’t funny,” Mitch had said, staring Daron down. “You get us up at the crack of dawn and make me think about having to call my mom. You know how she is. I’m telling you now, it better not be a joke.”
They were almost there.
“Look,” Daron said.
Her pale body was glistening, the sun bouncing off it. Her black pubic hair contrasted with the brown sand and was visible from the distance.
“Holy shit,” Trey said, his Jamaican accent even more accentuated.
It was clear between the boys that something serious was afoot, something that would change them forever.
“You gotta be fucking kidding me,” Adam said, looking like he was about to puke. His blond hair was waving in the wind and his face was pale.
Daron felt possessive over the girl. He didn’t want his buddies to get too close and defile the bond that he felt for her. He had found her and felt the need to protect her. How goddamn ironic is that, he thought. She’s already dead. The worst has been done.
Trey pulled out his phone and Mitch stopped him before he could dial 911. “Wait a minute. There are five guys here. The cops are gonna think we had something to do with it. She’s naked, Trey.”
Trey looked at the guys and put the phone away. Terra exhaled from the safety of her spiritual home. What four out of the five boys didn’t know was that her killer was among them.