Every Search Carries a Risk
The sound of footsteps crunching through the sand brought Nicki out of her shocked stupor. "That you, Nicki?" came Samantha's voice approaching the door. Nicki quickly crumpled up the threatening letter and tossed it into the garbage can; no point in worrying her friends any more than they had to be, she decided. The door opened a few seconds later. "Sleep well?" Samantha asked her as she and Jessie came in.
"Uh, pretty good," Nicki said quickly, "Sorry I missed the jog today, though. Um," she added quickly, "I was wondering; after we punch in for today, maybe we'd better go on out to where we heard that crashing last night and see what happened."
"Nicki, is it really that important!?" Jessie sighed, "I'm telling you it was just a whale or..."
"Still, even if it was, it sounded like the whale crashed into something," Nicki argued, "It's worth a look if nothing else, and if it is nothing, we can just come right back in, right Sam?"
She turned to the brunette for aid. "Well," Samantha scratched her head, "I suppose we could. After all, if something did crash, the debris could be a hazard on the beach. Better check with Mr. Smarr first, though. Speaking of which," she glanced at the clock, "we'd better get dressed; our shift starts pretty soon."
"I still say we're looking too much into this," Jessie continued grumbling as the three of them strolled along the beach-already filling up with the early morning swimming crowd-towards their lifeguard tower, "Mr. Smarr isn't going to like it if we go out here for nothing."
"IF we find nothing," Nicki corrected her.
"Maybe I should have just kept quiet about that legend of the sea creatures," the redhead continued grousing as she reached the ramp into the tower, "I put too much into your mind about..."
Suddenly she let out a low cry. Nicki glanced over her shoulder to see what the problem was and gasped herself: lying on the floor before them was a dead dog, apparently stabbed with some sharp instrument judging by the wound on its back. "How did this get in here!?" she managed to say.
"And who would treat an animal like this!?" Samantha was equally appalled. She grabbed for the radio on the table. "Mr. Smarr, it's Samantha; someone killed a dog and left it in here!" she informed him as calmly as she could muster.
"A what!?" their supervisor sounded equally shocked on the other end of the line.
"Dead dog," Nicki leaned took the radio off her, "See if you can get the authorities to come take a look at it."
"The authorities for a dead dog?" he sounded puzzled.
"We just think it's a good idea," Nicki told him, "Oh, Mr. Smarr, also, if it's OK, we heard something out in the ocean last night; it sounded like an accident of some kind. We'd like to check it out if that's OK."
"Accident?" Smarr sounded a bit worried, "Well, if you really want to make sure...yeah, I guess that would be fine. Make sure someone covers your section of the beach while you're out, though."
"Right," Nicki switched frequencies. "Mandy, Allison, it's Nicki," she said to the next set of lifeguards down the beach, "Sam, Jessie and I are going to check something out; hold for us till we get back."
"Gotcha," came the reply. Nicki switched the radio off. "OK, let's go do it," she told her friends, jogging down the tower walkway and making a right towards the lifeguards' marina. "What do you suppose happened with that dog?" Samantha sounded a little worried, "And why would anyone do that, like I asked earlier?"
"I have no idea, Sam, but who's to say if it was meant for us at all?" Nicki shrugged. Deep down, though, she wasn't quite as sure. Had the dog been a second warning not to keep looking into the apparent string of accidents? If so, who was sending them? Would she do well to be careful from here on?
She tried to put these thoughts out of her mind as she climbed into the first ocean patrol boat they approached. "Tie off," she instructed her friends, starting the engine.
"So where are we supposed to be looking, anyway?" Jessie still sounded skeptical as she jumped in after Samantha, "It was dark last night, and I don't think any of us really saw anything that would be of reference."
"Well, judging from where we are now, it sounded like it came from over that way," Nicki pointed to the southeast, "So we might as well head that way. Hold on."
She opened the boat full throttle and steered it quickly in the direction she'd mentioned. Gradually the beach sunk out of sight behind them. The wind was starting to pick up a little off the ocean, she thought, and cirrus clouds were starting to wisp in over the horizon. The side effects of the hurricane, she supposed. At least it wouldn't do them any harm at Coronado Beach.
For a good five minutes, they zipped towards the open ocean, Nicki scanning the horizon for anything suspicious. The ocean, however, looked completely calm and devoid of any sign that anything out of the ordinary had taken place at all. She glanced back at the land as she cut the engine and listened for anything that could suggest an accident of some kind. This should be the location of where the accident had taken place, but there was no crime scene at all.
"Well Nicki, looks like I was right, nothing out here," Jessie told her with just a little tinge of triumph, "Can we go on back to base now?"
"I could swear something happened out here," Nicki scanned all over, searching for anything out of the ordinary.
"Well apparently you were just trying to find an extraordinary explanation for something mundane," the redhead said, "Now there's..."
"Hold on," Samantha held up her hand. She was staring at a rocky outcropping about a half mile away, "It looks like something's floating around in that inlet there."
"Sam, don't encourage her please, I just want..." Jessie was drowned out as Nicki restarted the engine and zoomed the boat towards the rocks. Her eyes widened, as did her companions. Floating there was the debris of a wrecked boat, and an oil slick. "Nothing to see?" she inquired to Jessie, trying not to gloat.
"Well..." Jessie stammered for an answer, "Sure, Nicki, it's a wreckage, but there's no proof it was a sea monster. After all, these people could have gotten lost and crashed into these rocks and then..."
"Do you hear something?" Nicki held up her hand. She could make out a low rumble from underneath them, as if something was rising up from under the boat. There was no time for Jessie or Samantha to answer this, for seconds later something slammed into the boat with tremendous force, sending the three of them flying into the air.