Holy Water

The residents and visitors of Seagull Beach frolicked in the pristine clear-blue waters just outside a small town by the same name. Warm waves rolled gently onto the beach as children and adults alike basked and played under the rays of an August sun. It had been a typical scene for this beach during this time of year, just as it had been the year before and the year before that. But things were about to change in Seagull Beach. What happened that day would forever change the way people looked at those waters.

It was about 2:00 in the afternoon and the tide was out. There were crowds of people in the water; and many had ventured far off shore. They were playing, swimming, and generally enjoying themselves as people normally do in the ocean on a summer day. But that was when the fin appeared. A solitary, silver fin, rising eight inches from the surface of the water, cutting the waves like a knife. The woman who first saw it began to scream. It is said that her screams were heard two towns away. They had heard stories of the attacks, but the people of Seagull Beach had never expected it to be swimming in these waters. It didn’t take long for the news to travel through the three hundred or so  people wading in the surf. The screaming continued and the panic began. A Rolling Stones concert with general admission seating has never seen a rush like this. The stampede rushed ashore, trampling the slow and the weak. A hundred and fifty people had one goal in mind; get out of the water and put distance between themselves and the monster that swam out there. Injured people lay in the shallows while a few, brave, others helped drag them to the hot sand. The entire human population of the sea that day rushed out of the surf and then stood on Seagull beach and stared out toward the horizon. Everyone that is, except for one very unfortunate woman.

Now a different kind of scream was heard by everyone in attendance. That scream was one of a woman being chewed to bits in about four feet of water. The crowd watched in horror as the woman struggled to free herself and the water around her turned from blue to red.

———-

Later that day…

“There was another attack today, Sheriff. Elizabeth Sanders, 25. She lived right up the beach in the new subdivision. She just got married last Saturday too. I talked with her wife.”

“Wife?”

“Yea. Lesbian. With that single mother that washed up on shore last week, I think I’m seeing a pattern here.” the tired deputy took his hat off and rubbed his eyes.

“Tell me about it. I received a report today from a precinct ten miles north of here that a pair of high school sweethearts were killed last night. I guess they were having premarital sex on the beach. The damn thing came right out of the water and chewed their legs off. The tide has come and gone twice and the sand is still pink from the blood. The rest of ‘em are at the coroner’s office. We compared the bite marks with those on the single mom. Perfect match.”

Sheriff Roger Monroe had his hands full in that little town for the first time in his career. He and his deputy, Mike Dawson, would have to face the town tomorrow. The next day would be the town meeting and the people of Seagull Beach would want answers. They would be expecting him to have a solution. At this point in time, he was stumped. Deputy Dawson, however, had done some figuring, and felt he understood their situation quite well. He had an idea.

Things were slow that night at Liberty Hospital when a man burst through the emergency room doors carrying his son in his arms. The boy, about fifteen years old, was unconscious and bleeding severely from the groin area. Dr. Feldman was the first to respond. At once she realized that the boy’s entire groin had been ripped out and blood was rushing from the gaping wound. “Nurse! We’ll need blood. Stat! Prepare the O.R. I need help here!” She spoke to the father next, “Sir, how did this happen?”

Richard Johnson shook his head, “I don’t know. He won’t tell me.”

“What’s the boy’s name?”

“Nick.”

Dr. Feldman put her face close to the boy’s, “Nick. Can you hear me? You have to tell me how this happened to you.”

Nick, barely conscious, parted his cold blue lips just long enough to whisper, “I was masturbating in the boathouse and…  Waaaaaa”   His last word left his lips and entered the room as nothing more than a luke-warm breeze.

The boy died in his doctor’s arms at 10:35 PM.

******************************

The town meeting began with a single, angry, question shouted from the back row.

“What are you planning to do about this? I was there during the incident this morning. Andy Garcia stepped on a sharp seashell and started cursing. A moment later he got his leg bit off by that THING!”

The people were more riled up than Sheriff Monroe had expected. The town meeting was quickly turning bad. They were turning into an angry mob. “First thing’s first. Until we can come up with a solution, we need to agree to start being careful and set some ground rules to prevent anyone else from being hurt in the meantime.” Monroe took a breath and began to lay out the rules he’d prepared, “No more drinking on fishing trips. If you leave the dock with a cooler full of beer on your boat, just remember, it’s your funeral. The Darwin Research expedition to the outer reef has already been canceled. And for goodness sakes people, if you’re having an affair, by all means, stay far inland.”

Mavis, the librarian, stood up in the back. “The boat with my new shipment of books is sitting at the dock and hasn’t been unloaded yet…”

Monroe sighed, “We may have to just write that one off. We’ll take up another collection next year.”

A teenage girl he didn’t know was next, “Can we at least sunbathe? I mean, if we stay on the beach and don’t go in the water?”

The Sheriff held up his hands, “That should be fine. One-piece bathing suits ONLY.”

The press was in attendance that day as well. A reporter in the first row snapped a photo then asked the question the Sheriff had been waiting for and dreading, “So what’s your next step Sheriff Monroe? How are you going to get rid of the monster?”

“Well, actually, I ah… ah…”

Deputy Dawson came to the rescue, “We’ve put together a plan. There is a medical supply truck sitting behind our local Planned Parenthood over on Main Street. I have a register here of everything on that truck. I believe it contains just what we need. On that truck are a hundred and eighty five cases of…”

******************************

The next morning at sunrise, twenty-five boats and twice that many volunteers were already on the water. The boats were filled to the brim with brightly colored boxes. They sailed out to a half-mile off shore, positioned themselves two hundred feet apart and dropped anchor just as Deputy Dawson had prescribed. The people who had gathered on shore to watch could see boats lined up, stretching in each direction, the entire length of the town, and then some. Once they were in position, Sheriff Monroe climbed into a small motorboat and cruised out toward the center of the line. Operation Rubber Raft was about to begin. Monroe stood in the boat, surveyed his navy and spoke into his radio, “All stations report!”

“Boat One CHECK!”

“Boat Two check.”

“Boat Three CHECK!”

“Boat Four…”

When he had heard from all one hundred and twenty-five vessels, The Sheriff of Seagull Beach gave the signal, “Make the dump!”

Five hundred people on one hundred and twenty five boats simultaneously began dumping cases upon cases of individually wrapped condoms into the sea. It was reminiscent of the Boston Tea Party, except teabags these were not. It only took a few minutes to complete the mission, but the results lasted for hours. As the parade of vessels sailed away back home, on the surface of the ocean was a blanket; a talisman for whatever was out there. It was covered in shiny little squares for as far as the eye could see. Like an army of tiny jellyfish marching toward the horizon.

*****************************

That summer was one that would long be remembered by the citizens of Seagull beach and by the people who had visited the town that year. It was one that would live on in legend, a story to be told in pubs and passed on from old folks to their grandchildren. But there’s one thing you can be sure of. That terrible thing never again returned to the waters of Seagull Beach.

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