Ten years. Ten years since I'd been back in San Franciso. Time had really flown by.
I hoisted my backpack higher on my shoulders. Getting back here had been more difficult than I had anticipated. Having finished high school a year early, my father hadn't been too keen to send me to the other side of the country to go to college, he did however cave when I agreed to live with my Aunt Victoria and her daughter Pamela for the first semester until I turned eighteen.
I mostly planned to put my head down and spend the summer studying before classes got started to get a head start, so I also managed to convince my father to let me move to San Francisco a whole two months before I actually needed to. I think he knew I needed to get out of Detroit, too many memories of Mom in that house.
It didn’t take me long to find Victoria’s apartment building. It was easily one of the newest buildings in the city. It looked very modern with its swinging glass doors and doorman decked in dark green and gold. Aunt Victoria was a very high class and well-paid surgeon. She had been top of all her classes all through high school and college. My grandparents used to brag about her to my Mom, who was a sculptor. I knew I could learn a lot from her.
I parked my Jeep around the block and slipped out. It was a nice part of town, not too far from the beach, yet downtown enough that people looked sophisticated. Down the street, I saw the painted cable car rolling down the hill covered in tourists. San Francisco was a busy, cheerful city, exactly like I remembered it.
I moved on from the building and found the street where I used to live with Mom and Dad ten years ago. I found our old house, it had been touched up and I could hear the sheiks of a little child inside. A dog raced around the front lawn barking joyfully. I watched it run back into the house.
I kept moving after that, walking down the streets I knew better than I thought, I found my old school, it was empty. I walked to Golden Gate Park until I found the beach. The long wide beach with its light blue-green seawater lapping up, there weren’t very many waves, but the water was still sparkling and beautiful. The great Golden Gate bridge loomed above it. It wasn’t a place to swim really, the water was so cold and the current pretty strong, nevertheless, the beach was crowded. Tourists walked with bare feet soaking up the bright rays, the cafes along the beach were full, people licking ice creams, playing ball games and walking their dogs.
I kicked my sneakers off, rolled my jeans up and marched into the surf. The water was freezing, it wrapped around my ankles quickly, they drew back just as fast. Chuckling to myself I walked back up the beach, dumped my stuff and leaned back to enjoy the sun on such a lovely day.
Eventually, I made my way back to Victoria’s building and was welcomed in by the doorman. He pointed out the elevator and told me they lived on the eighth floor.
The elevator pinged and the doors slid open. I stepped out onto the landing and rang the doorbell. The door slammed open almost immediately and a girl stood in the doorway.
“Mom!” she hollered. “I’ve found him!” she grabbed my hand and pulled me inside slamming the door behind me.
“I hope you’re Pamela, or I’ve just been kidnapped,” I murmured down at her. She grinned up at me.
She looked just like Mom had, her skin was light brown tanned and she had large green eyes. Her dark brown hair was cut in a straight line at the base of her chin with long bangs that fell just above her eyes. I hadn’t seen her in ten years, she was two years old the last time I saw her.
“Oh, Caleb! I’m so glad to see you! It’s been years! Oh, I’m so happy!” she exclaimed, my memory suddenly came back reminding me she was clingy. Even as a two-year-old.
“Hey, nice to see you too Pam.”
“Caleb I’m so glad you decided to move in with Mom and me! It’s been years!”
“You’ve already said that,” I reminded her.
“But I’m so happy. Mom’s making your favourite dinner! Roast chicken! Remember you used to love her chicken!” she shrieked.
I nodded slowly.
“Yeah, I remember. But how do you?”
“Mom told me all about you. She said you were great! Plus I’m so happy to have a big cousin living with me! She said you were tough too! So boys won’t beat me up in the playground.”
“Do they hurt you?” I asked raising one brow.
“No,” she grinned. She didn’t look like the sort of girl who let herself be pushed around at school anyway.
She indicated for me to follow her as we entered straight into a large living room. It had a plasma TV and two red couches. Gigantic windows were facing the city, the view was amazing. I could see the Golden Gate Bridge and the ocean. I grinned.
“Pam? I’m in the kitchen,” I heard a woman’s voice cry out.
Pam grinned at me waving me into the next room. It was the kitchen, it was gigantic and very silver. A woman stood next to the oven. Something was boiling in a pot on the stove. She wore her dark hair in a messy bun and a bright pink apron. She glanced up at me and grinned.
“Caleb! I’m so glad you’ve come. I’ve missed you,” she gushed ripping her mittens off.
“Hey Auntie Victoria,” I smiled as she reached her arms around me to hug me.
“Wow, you’ve grown,” she gazed up at me grinning. “How tall are you? Oh, how old were you the last time I saw you?”
“Seven,” I smiled.
“Now look at you! A man! Oh, I'm so old!”
“You’re not old Mom! You’re beautiful!” Pam piped up. Victoria laughed.
“While don’t you settle in? There’s rice ready for lunch. And the chicken is in the oven. As soon as you’re ready we can have some lunch,” she suggested pushing her daughter's hair behind her ears. Pam slapped her hand away. Victoria chuckled.
"That works for me," I murmured.
"Perfect, Pam will show you to your room. I’m sure you’re dying to see it,” Victoria continued smiling sweetly.
éPam nodded then skipped out of the room again. She led me down a hallway pointing out the rooms that we passed, two bathrooms, her room, Victoria’s room then on the end mine. I pushed the white door open slowly. It looked pretty okay. The walls were painted white and there was a very big window on the far corner. I could see the bridge and the ocean. There was a large black double bed pushed up just under the window and a small trunk placed at its foot, a small wooden wardrobe and a desk. Besides that, it was pretty empty. But it was exactly what I wanted. I smiled entering the room. I dumped my bag on the bed. Pam was rocking back and forth on her feet smiling.
“Do you like your room?"
“Here’s the key. For your room. Mom said you might want a lock. For girls, I dunno. Anyway here it is,” she placed a small silver key in my palm. I smiled down at her.
“And Mom has a key for the front door for you. Come on! Let’s have lunch!” she started away indicating for me to follow.
The lunch was good, better than what I had been eating with Dad the last several years in Detroit. But Pam chatted the whole time, nonstop and Victoria hummed which was a bit annoying. I knew that they were my new family though.
“You know a murderer is running around town? Did you hear of him? No one knows what he looks like, mainly because he doesn’t leave any victims alive,” Pam giggled slightly.
“This amuses you?” I asked.
“It’s pretty exciting. Don’t you think? Have you heard of it?” she defended herself.
“No, I had read a few headlines, but nothing more."
“It’s been going on for a month now. Mom’s a bit scared, aren’t you? But you know what? I think he’s far away. The last murder we heard of was way up north of the state. So I think he’s leaving. But it doesn't matter because I’m not scared of anything!” the twelve-year-old announced proudly.
Victoria sighed heavily, looking a bit annoyed.
“Mom said we could do lots of things together this summer," Pam stated, fluttering her lashes at me.
“I have to study Pam.”
“But not seriously! You will have time to hang out right?”
“I guess. But I will have to spend time studying. I got into a good school, so I have to study hard.”
“Language Pam!” Victoria scolded.
We finished dinner early and the sun was still setting so I decided to go for a jog. I got changed in my room and grabbing my keys, dashes out the door before Pam could catch me.
I ran down the street, enjoying the cool breeze, the beat of my music. I rant towards the beach, watching in the distance as the sunset over the horizon. The moonlight glistened through the streets, shining like a spotlight on the water when I arrived. The beach was deserted except for a couple running and giggling. They disappeared rapidly. Looking around quickly I slipped my shirt off and pulled my shoes off. Running through the sand was always more comfortable shoeless. I took off down the beach, my breathing regular.
As I made to turn back onto the street I paused to pull my shoes back on. When I stood up again I noticed three figures standing in the middle of the sand. All of them women, all exactly the same size. Their skin was pale, almost silver, the moonlight seemed so bright on them, it almost looked like they were shimmering.
They were facing away from me, one of them stood to the side arms crossed over her chest. Another with curlier hair stood still looking towards the third one. The third one seemed to shimmer brightly in the moonlight, unlike the other two, her hair was white. She was looking down at three other figures lying in the sand.
Suddenly one of them stood up and started shouting. He grabbed the white-haired girl’s shoulders and shook her. The closest one to her let out a yelp and stepped closer. Two women stood up quickly, they didn’t seem to be wearing any clothing. One of them let out a scream. I watched in shock as her head slipped off her neck and plunked onto the sand.
The other girl let out a shrill cry and leapt on the man shouting. The white-haired girl stepped away from them slowly. She was staring at the couple. The other two were looking around the beach quickly. There was a long silence then suddenly the girl fell off the man. She screamed as her arm was ripped from her body. Then suddenly she went quiet. The two dark-haired girls were hurrying back up the beach, straight towards me.
The man and the white-haired girl were staring at each other. Suddenly the man made a move towards her. She stepped back in time and ducked under his arm. I saw it, a glinting knife in his hand. He’d killed the other two, now he was after the white-haired girl. I was stunned as the man brought his knife up and plunged it into his own heart. My heart thundered in my chest as I crouched in the water. The white-haired girl was as bright as the stars. She turned quickly and staggering, she raced up the beach to join the other two. They ran straight past me and they disappeared into the city.
I was unable to move, I couldn't tear my gaze from the three bodies that now lay on the beach, their blood soaking into the sand. I swallowed, my heart was hammering in my chest.
Shaking I took out my phone. I dialled 911.
“My name is Caleb Matsumoto. Uh, I’m reporting a murder. Two women and I think a suicide.”